Last spring, an unsuspecting elderly couple came into Alpena Alcona Area Credit Union in Alpena, Mich., to discuss a loan. Their loan interviewer, Jamaican Beaudoin, was helping them when the couple said two words that set off alarms that something was amiss.
“The key words that she picked up on, it’s one we’re all listening for, is when [they said] Western Union,” said Donald J. Mills, president/CEO of the $248 million credit union. “They were going to utilize Western Union to transfer the funds back to the perpetrators. The problem when you use Western Union, if you do determine you’ve been defrauded after the fact, you can’t get your money back. When you hear Western Union you have to hit the brakes and ask more questions of your members.”
And ask questions she did.
Beaudoin dug a little deeper, and the couple lamented that they recently received a phone call from their grandson who said he was in Mexico for a friend’s wedding and ran into some trouble. The grandson said that he was in an accident, landed in jail and needed several thousand dollars wired to him so he could post bail and return home.
“The grandson specifically asked that they not tell his parents because he did not want them to know,” Beaudoin said.
The whole situation reeked of deception, and Beaudoin knew what she had to do. She pleaded with the members to call their supposed grandson back and ask him questions only he would know.
“My method to convince them it was a scam was to advise them to call their grandson back and verify personal information with him that only he would know,” Beaudoin said. “I suggested they ask him questions, such as the name of his first pet or his mother’s middle name. I told them I had heard there was a similar scam going on that targeted the elderly, and I just wanted to make sure that they too were not falling victim to a fraud.”
Unfortunately, the couple was sure everything was on the level and “defensively replied they were very certain that it was their grandson they were talking to and even said they recognized his voice.”
Beaudoin eventually persuaded the pair to contact their alleged grandson, and the jig was up.
“After they called their grandson back and realized it was not him, I advised them to go to the police station and report it,” she said. “The police said there really was nothing they could do.”
The couple “could not thank me enough. He said he would have just went ahead and sent the money had I not said something,” she added. “He could not believe how good the fraudster was at mimicking his grandson’s voice and how the fraudster even cried trying to get him to believe. As it turns out, when they called their son to ask if their grandson was really home from Mexico yet, they found he was home safe and sound.”
Following her heroics, Beaudoin, who started at the CU as a teller in August 2009 and was promoted to loan interviewer in November 2010, was named Employee of the Month for April and Employee of the Year at the CU’s Christmas party in December.
Beaudoin is an excellent worker, Mills said. “She has been on the fast track for improving herself, both personally and professionally. She is striving to become a loan officer in the near future.”
“Overall, we’re tremendously pleased with her performance,” he added. “Jamaican is one of our credit union’s top performers, and we wanted to recognize her for certainly going above and beyond the call of duty. She prevented our members from getting defrauded.”
Mills said that there are about two to three scams attempted each year and AAACU does everything in its power to prevent them from coming to fruition. The credit union holds a day each February for training on how to nip such cons in the bud.
“We have a guest speaker whom educates us on the new tactics fraudsters are using and what we can do to help better protect our members,” Beaudoin said. “We also have access to webinars regarding fraud, as well as keep updated on fraud through email notification.”