AUSTIN (KXAN) — A retired man who lives in north Austin is out $20,000, and even his own family didn’t believe the story until they saw the evidence.
Staci Nguyen noticed something was off when she walked into her 66-year-old dad’s house Saturday afternoon.
“He was very distraught like he was under the influence of something, he wasn’t very coherent,” said Staci. “He just nonchalantly, calmly said I just lost $20,000. And I said ‘What? Are you kidding me?’ I thought it was a joke.”
When the family retraced his steps the pieces were there. They found security footage of the sharply dressed man Duc Nguyen says he met in the parking lot of the MT Supermarket at 10901 North Lamar Blvd. in Chinatown. A man he says spoke with an African accent.
“An old guy came to the door and he told me roll the window down,” Nguyen. “He went to cry and so I said, I think, OK I can help you.”
In his heart he wanted to help, so he gave the man a ride. The man told Nguyen he needed to go to the H-E-B at Interstate 35 and Parmer Lane. When they got there he met up with a younger man who got in the car. They told Nguyen they were collecting money for the poor.
“Then they asked me, ‘Do you have money to share with us? A donation for the poor people.’ I said OK,” recounted Nguyen.
The men asked him for $18,000 to $20,000 and told him to drive to his bank, and Nguyen said yes. His family has the bank receipt to prove he withdrew the money. Staci says that’s totally out of character, and says her dad is extremely frugal and considers $200 a lot of money. The Nguyen family had been saving the money for a trip to their home country of Vietnam at the end of the year.
Nguyen even had a chance to tell a bank teller or call the police when he went inside to get the money because the two men stayed outside and kept their distance from the building. But he never made a call for help or considered himself in danger as he complied with their every request.
“My mom called him while he was at the bank and he said he was busy,” said Staci. “It is just so weird.”
He says he finally dropped off the two men at the same H-E-B where they picked up the younger man earlier, and they took off with the load of cash.
During the drive, Nguyen says the men kept asking him to hold and look at a piece of paper that had directions on it to a Hilton hotel. They had him do it do it several times as they went from one place to another.
His family is convinced there was some sort of substance on the paper putting him in what they describe as a trance. When Nguyen got home, he had a bad headache and was vomiting, and ended up going to the emergency room.
Austin police are investigating the case, and family is spreading the surveillance photos of the man on social media hoping that no else becomes their next target.