WILLISTON, Vt.–Scammers nearly stole $37,000 from an elderly Vermont man Wednesday, but were foiled when an alert teller at a local credit union took notice of the man’s unusually large withdraw.
Williston police said a teller at Vermont State Employees Credit Union noticed something wasn’t right when the man withdrew $27,000 in cash.
“For someone, taking out a certain amount of money might be routine, whereas for another person, it’s completely out of the norm,” said Rachel Feldman, public relations specialist for VSECU. “It was a number of signs that something was not exactly right.”
Credit union employees determined the man was on his way to Walmart, where police believe he was told by the scammers to convert the cash into gift cards.
They called police, who caught up with the man in the WalMart parking lot.
“He had the cash in hand,” said Williston Police Officer Travis Trybulski said. “He was on the phone, following the instruction of the scammers.”
Trybulski said they learned the man had withdrawn an additional $10,000 before tapping his VSEC account.
“They kept pushing,” Trybulski said. “As a law enforcement officer knowing what was going on, I was uncomfortable.”
While officers gathered more information from the man, the scammers called back — twice. Caller ID from the first call indicated it was coming from the Social Security Administration. The second call was supposedly from the Chittenden County Sheriff’s Office.
Trybulski answered both times and challenged the scammers before hanging up.
Trybulski said it’s almost impossible to catch the person on the other end since they’re likely overseas. “Once you send that money, it is gone,” he said “You generally don’t get it back.”
Trybulski said most calls claiming to be from federal or local law enforcement agencies asking for money, are bogus. He urged people to be vigilant when anyone you don’t know calls and asks for money.
As for Wednesday’s incident, the man was lucky someone at the credit union was paying attention
“If the financial institution hadn’t called us, this man would’ve probably been out $37,000,” Trybulski said.