Prineville clerk helps customers avoid rip-offs

Advice can save would be victims big losses

Prineville woman halts scams

She may not be the person behind flashing lights when you get pulled over for speeding, nor does she have a gun or a badge. But Gayle Eppler, the service counter manager at Ray's Food Place in Prineville, is trying to warn customers before they are hit by a potential scam, sometimes to the tune of thousands of dollars.

"You know, they're skeptical of why you are telling them not to do it," Eppler said Tuesday.

For the last 20 years, she has been working behind the counter, checking lottery tickets, accepting utility bills and wiring money around the world.

Or, sometimes, not wiring it.

"I've just done this so many years. I've seen the downside to what can happen with Western Union and scams," Eppler said. "I just hate to see people part with their money like that."

Eppler says she has seen just about every scam in the book.

On Monday -- the day NewsChannel 21 ran a story on a local woman who nearly lost money to the "grandparent scam" -- she said an elderly couple came in to the store, wanting to send money to get their grandson out of jail in Mexico.

Eppler says they told her they had already sent $2,000 and were looking to send more. She recognized the phone scam and talked them out of sending the cash, saving the couple $1,800.

"They said, 'We don't really have the money to send, but we were so in fear that he was in a jail and he couldn't get out of the situation,'" said Eppler. "So they were very thankful."

The Prineville woman says some people don't take her advice, but she is grateful for the ones that do.

"I'm taking business from my store if I talk you out of it," Eppler said, explaining what she tells customers who she feels are about to lose their money. "But in good conscience, I can't just let you go without advising you the possibility it's a scam."

Eppler adds that if you think you may be a part of a scam, you should call the Western Union Scam Hotline 1-800-448-1492 or your local police department.

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