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"All for one and one for all!" It was a team effort as Renae, Dawn, and Linda banded together to make sure their customer and his money was safe.

Superheroes of Steele: Saving a Six-Thousand Dollar Scam

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As soon as the elder man pulled out $6,000 in cash, Renae Kennedy knew something wasn’t right. Renae is a Senior Frontline Specialist at Choice Bank in Steele, North Dakota, and it was a quiet afternoon at the bank. That is until this man walked in.

“I’d like to get a cashier’s check for this money,” he said, approaching Renae’s desk with the money in hand.

Renae’s eyes grew wide as she looked at the wad of bills. She recognized the man from the community — he was in his late 70’s and had lived in Steele all his life. He had only recently opened up an account with Choice.

“I thought it was strange that he had brought in that much cash,” Renae said. “So I started asking a few questions.”

As Renae was busy chatting with her customer and counting all the bills he had brought in she started noticing some red flags.

“I thought it was strange that he had brought in that much cash,” Renae said. “So I started asking a few questions.”

“Who needs this cashier’s check?” She asked.

“My grandma,” the man said.

Renae raised her eyebrows. Nearby, Loan Operations Specialist Dawn Dewitz furrowed her brow and looked over at the white-haired man. There was an awkward pause.

“Sir… how old is your grandma?” Renae asked tentatively.

“Oh, it’s my wife’s grandma. She has cancer, she’s in the hospital, and they won’t start treatments until they have cash upfront,” he explained.

“How old is your wife?” Renae asked.

The man showed her a picture of a young woman. He explained they had recently gotten married online and she lives in Alabama. Dawn, who was sitting nearby, again furrowed her brow.

“I know his family, and no one had talked about him getting re-married,” Dawn said. “Something was definitely not right.”

Renae thought the same thing. As she continued to ask questions and the story continued to change, she knew with certainty that this was a scam. Gently, she tried to explain that sending a cashier’s check for $6,000 to this person was not a good idea. The man was adamant. He patted her desk confidently.

“It’s okay. Just do this. It’s legit. I’m sure,” he said.

Renae continued to push back. But the man would not waver in his decision.

“I know you’re trying to protect me,” he said. “But just do this.”

Fifteen minutes more of this back and forth, and Renae was beginning to quaver in her resistance. What more could she do?

Fifteen minutes more of this back and forth, and Renae was beginning to quaver in her resistance. What more could she do?

At that moment, Dawn, who had been listening nearby, had an idea. She knew that Linda Rudolph, AVP Business Banking/Ag Banker, knew this man and his family. She went to her office and peeked in.

“Linda, we need help. I think Renae is about to crack,” she said. “I know you know him — is there anything we can do?”

Linda looked out and saw the man, patting Renae’s desk emphatically, shaking his head. She also knew the man’s son was listed as a co-owner on his account.

“I’ll call his son,” Linda said.

At a loss on how to convince the man he was being scammed, Renae and Dawn turned to Linda who had some connections.

Linda gave the man’s son a call and explained the situation. As soon as she told him his dad was attempting to send $6,000 to a stranger, the son groaned.

“He said a few words I can’t repeat here,” Linda said with a laugh.

Apparently, this was not the first time his dad had tried to send money for a scam. The son thanked the Choice Bank ladies for giving him a call.

“Tell him I say ‘No,’” he requested. Linda agreed and joined Renae and Dawn at the front counter, where they were still trying to convince the man this was a scam.

“I talked to your son,” Linda said.

The response was immediate. The man looked startled, then he frowned and shrugged his shoulders with an air of defeat.

A half-hour later from when he first walked in, the man left the bank with $6,000 still in his hand. Renae made a note in his account to ensure others proceeded with caution if he were to return with future requests for a cashier’s check. Linda called the son and let him know his dad still had the cash, and to make sure he didn’t try to send the funds another way. Then, all three women breathed a collective sigh of relief.

“I was still shaking,” Renae said. “It was so nerve-wracking and totally out of my comfort zone. Dawn and Linda were my heroes that day.”

“I was still shaking,” Renae said. “It was so nerve-wracking and totally out of my comfort zone. Dawn and Linda were my heroes that day.”

“We truly were like the three musketeers,” Linda said with a laugh. “All for one and one for all! We knew it was the right thing to do, and we helped each other see it through.”

“The Choice Bank core value, Know when to ask for help, and know when to offer it comes to mind,” Renae said.

“They could see I was in a tough situation, and they offered their help,” she said. “I’m so grateful they came to my rescue.”

For more information on how to avoid scams, resources are available on our website at www.bankwithchoice.com/cybersecurity.