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Scottsdale couple saved from scam by CVS store clerk

“Please learn from our mistake,” Francie Hidalgo says about the situation

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz — In their 52-year marriage, the Hidalgos have dealt with scams before, but have never experienced anything like this.

“All and all it was just awful,” Francie Hidalgo says through tears.

They say a team of scammers convinced them to take out thousands of dollars to spend on gift cards before someone told them what was really going on. 

“They were like angels who came up to us," Francie said.

The retired couple lives in Scottsdale. On Monday, they received a call from someone claiming to work at Walmart asking them to confirm their nearly $3,000 order.

"We never ordered anything like that," Francie recalled telling the scammer over the phone. 

What really convinced the Hidalgos was the scammer had their address and apartment number. 

“He was so detailed,” she says.

The scammer then told her that they would connect Francie to her bank's fraud department. She remained on the line when another voice came through. This time the scammer claimed to be with the Scottsdale Police Department. 

Giving Francie his name and badge number, she was told investigators are looking into an ongoing state and federal investigation into their bank branch. Saying someone there had given out their information to scammers and would freeze their account. 

But first, they would have to take out $3,000 which for them is a lot. 

“So much money," Francie said. “They sounded so honest, they sounded so sincere.”

She and her husband John listened. Driving to their bank to take out the money. The person claiming to be a police officer asked to remain on the phone giving Francie instructions. 

“He said first of all you cannot speak with anyone at the bank,” she claimed. 

They listened because they were told that bank was under investigation. With the cash in her purse, John and Francie got back in their car. 

"We are both shaking like a leaf,” she recalled. 

When the scammer then told them to spend that money on gift cards. Francie thought that was odd and asked why. 

“He said because, these people who contacted you know your home address and your apartment number and you will be robbed," Francie said. “It was very, very, very scary.”

Close to the bank was a CVS. The Hidalgos say they've never bought a gift card before so had to look around for the kiosk. At this time they are still on the phone with the scammer. 

“He is telling us step by step what to do," she said.

They find it and are told to purchase three $500 gift cards. That's when Francie says an employee at CVS walked by and realized what was going on. 

"She grabs the phone out of my hand and she says you are a scammer!" Francie said. 

The fake officer then tells the Hidalgos not to believe her until the worker hung up the phone. 

Then Francie says both she and her husband recognized for themselves what had just happened.

"It was like a blast of cold air right in both of our faces we were so shocked," she said. 

Both of them thanked the worker profusely for saving them from the situation. 

"It would have just been devastating if we hadn't been able to get that back," Francie said.

The scammer tried calling back three times but they didn't answer.

Both then went back to the bank and deposited the money. Taking in everything they experienced. 

“It was two entities that we trusted and he used them against us and that’s wrong,” she said.

Now the Hidalgos want their story to be shared with others so they don't become victims as well. 

"Don't make that mistake, please," Francie said.

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