ST. LOUIS — It only took two calls and twenty minutes, but that's how quickly Vivian Fox ended up in the middle of a tech support scam with about $1,600 gone before she could do anything about it.
"I just kept seeing my account go down, down, and nothing going back. And then that is when I got this gut-punch feeling in my stomach," she said. "Something is not right."
Fox said she was the target of a tech support scam by someone who claimed to be calling from Apple. They knew her name and her Apple ID. She gave them some financial information and watched as the money drained out of her account: 16 withdrawals at $99 each.
"I'm so embarrassed. You don't wanna tell," she said.
But she did tell. She called the police.
"Awareness is the key to prevention," FBI Asst. Special Agent Joshua Morrill said at a Wednesday panel at the St. Louis FBI office.
Morrill joined Fox to highlight tech support scams, the top financial scam reported for Americans over 60 years of age, on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Following their presentations, the group headed to the edge of the FBI property, placing 273 purple pinwheels in the grass each one representing ten people affected by scams in the St. Louis area last year.
Even though she got her money back, Fox said she is still struggling with the emotional damage.
"It makes me skeptical that who can you trust? You can't trust anybody," she said, hoping others will now exhibit the same level of scrutiny without learning the hard way.
"Don't trust anybody you don't know," she said.
If you suspect you or a loved one has been the target of elder abuse, call 1-800-392-0210 or visit the Missouri Dept. of Health and Senior Services website.