A Bay area senior is thanking his local Winn Dixie Grocery Store for their help and generosity while uncovering that he had been the victim of a scam.

  • Ralph Hough received scam call claiming an IRS debt
  • Hough purchased $4,000 in Google Play cards to pay debt, as instructed
  • Store staff member found purchases suspicious

Representatives from the grocery store in Plant City presented a $4,000 check to customer Ralph Hough. That’s how much Hough lost when a caller claiming to be from the IRS scammed him.

According to authorities, the caller demanded Hough buy $4,000 in Google Play Cards to pay an IRS debt.

There was no debt, but the caller was convincing, so Hough went to Winn Dixie to buy the cards.

When Hough returned later to buy more, a Winn Dixie cashier noticed.

“I said, 'Do you know who you’re buying this for?” said Assistant Manager Peggy Wade. “He says, 'It’s for my grandkids.' And I said, 'That’s a lot of money for Google Play cards.'”

Hough later told Wade about the calls he had been receiving, and she told him it was a scam.

Plant City Police said it happens far too often.

“Often times a lot of victims are elderly, and the folks who are the scammers take advantage of their willingness to listen,” said Plant City Police Sgt. Al Vanduyne.

According to authorities, the scammer called from a non-listed cell phone with a New York area code, making them very difficult to track down.

Hough was distraught, but Thursday representatives from Winn Dixie invited Hough back to the Plant City Store and gave the retired state trooper a $4,000 check to help out.

Hough was surprised at the store’s generosity.

“That’s amazing,” Hough said. “I wouldn’t count on anything. God’s good.”

And while Hough wishes he would have done things differently, he said he learned something: not to give up, because there are people who will help you.