Rarely, if ever, do interactions with a supermarket cashier go beyond simple pleasantries. They’re handy for checking you out and bagging your items, but that’s about it, right? What more can they do besides moving the checkout line forward in a timely fashion?
At least that’s what an older man named Cecil Rodgers of Cincinnati, Ohio, thought. When he showed up at a Walmart looking to transfer some money to a family member, he expected the process to be fast and painless. But once the cashier looked at Cecil’s hand-written check, she spotted an alarming problem—and she knew she’d have to tell the sweet old grandfather that this wasn’t going to be any ordinary transaction…
Interactions with cashiers are a fairly mundane part of life. You exchange hellos, jiggle the credit card scanner, grab your bagged goods, and fin. But recently, thanks to one particularly alert cashier at a Cincinnati Walmart, a senior citizen avoided making a huge mistake.
Even when money was tight, Cecil wanted to contribute to his family’s happy holidays any way he could. Then, with just a few days to go before Christmas in 2017, he received a phone call that would cause him to have an unusual interaction with a Walmart cashier—one that he’d likely never forget!
Cecil was hanging up his last remaining Christmas decorations when he heard the phone ring. He hadn’t been expecting a phone call, but he cheerily answered it nonetheless. What he heard next surprised him…
In his old age, his hearing wasn’t it what it used to be, which led him to use hearing aids. Regardless, he could tell the voice on the other end of the line was distraught. The conversation that followed was something slightly terrifying.
“A voice comes on and says, ‘Papaw, this is your oldest grandson. I’m in trouble,'” Cecil relayed to WCPO News. “‘I hit a woman’s car and she was seven months pregnant. And they charged me with drunken driving, and I’m in jail.'”
Needless to say, it was a surprising call for Cecil to receive out of the blue, but it took yet another surprising turn when his grandson passed the phone over to his lawyer, who delivered another dose of bad news.
The lawyer instructed Cecil to bring $2,300 to a nearby Walmart and transfer it to another Walmart in Maryland, where it could be used to bail his grandson, Phillip, out of jail. Worried about his family, Cecil rushed off to do what they asked.
Once there, Cecil filled out the necessary paperwork for a money transfer and stepped into a checkout line. He didn’t know the cashier, Audrella Taylor, but he soon learned how lucky he was to have chosen her line.
Cecil stepped up to the register, and lucky for him, he did more than just say “hello.” He explained his grandson’s unfortunate circumstances to Audrella, but the situation just didn’t add up for her.
She took note of the story’s details in her head and just didn’t buy it. “Well,” she told Cecil as he stood in line, “I am going to refuse the sender. I’m not going to let you send that money because I think you’ve been scammed.”
Before she would let the transaction through, she told Cecil he needed to call his daughter or grandkids and confirm whether or not Phillip had been truly locked up or if there’d even been a car accident. Per her request, he stepped out of line and made the call.
Sure enough, when Cecil contacted his daughter, she confirmed Audrella’s suspicions. There was no car accident and there was no grandson in prison; instead, Cecil had been contacted by scammers! But how did Audrella know?
“His daughter hadn’t contacted him,” Audrella told WCPO. “I felt like if his son was in true need that the mom would know first before the grandpa would.” Thanks to that bit of investigatory logic, Audrella saved the day—or at least a few thousand dollars for an old man!
The Walmart managers expressed gratitude for Audrella. “We’re very proud of Audrella and all of our customer service associates that helped,” the store’s manager, Dominic Gross, said. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time scammers preyed on the elderly—or anyone.
As one employee said, “You guys wouldn’t believe how many people we’ve saved money for simply by asking them heartfelt questions.” And true enough, by letting the conversation evolve beyond the “hellos” and “goodbyes” of a usual transaction, Audrella thwarted a scam.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t a story that ended with scammers in jail or even slapped with a massive fine. In reality, the scammers were free to try their scheme again on another senior—a heinous fact indeed. How did Cecil feel about all of this?
Check out the story below to learn more about the scam that nearly cost Cecil over $2,000. Hopefully, the video can raise awareness about the possibility of scammers preying on the elderly in your family, and you can save the day just like Audrella did!
Good thing Cecil and his cashier Audrella exchanged more than a few hellos! Otherwise, Cecil might have had a seriously glum holiday season.
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