Victims waiting for restitution following million dollar scam

Two Bakersfield business owners lost almost $20,000 to a fake debt collection service in 2009 and were told they would get some of it back.

BAKERSFIELD, CA - Two Bakersfield business owners lost almost $20,000 to a fake debt collection service in 2009 and were told they would get some of it back.

But, that still hasn't happened.

The District Attorney's office says Maxwell Turner and Associates scammed thousands of people around the country, including six or more people in Kern County.

Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Attorney's office said it is getting ready to sell many items seized from the company. That money will go to the victims.

"I pretty much just swept it under the rug feeling like I'm never going to get compensated for this. I'm taking it as a loss," said Jaime Villegas.

It's been almost four years since Jaime Villegas was scammed out of $16,000 by Maxwell Turner and Associates.

His business, Jaime and Sons Pest Control, took a direct hit.

"$16,000 is a lot, especially when you're raising a family and running a business. It's a lot of money," he continued. 

The District Attorney's office says the company's website made false and misleading representations, along with people working for the debt collection service.

"We find out that this is actually a criminal enterprise, that there was no Maxwell Turner and Associates. It was a group of scam artists who were calling people and pretending to be a debt collection agency," said Deputy District Attorney John Mitchell.

After an extensive investigation into Maxwell Turner and Associates, Paul Vasquez, Stefan Miller, and Darrian Summers were convicted in federal court of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

Along with their sentence, they were ordered to pay restitution. But for Villegas, he says he hasn't received a dime.

"We just got a general number, what was confiscated and that it would be distributed among thousands of victims, but as far as numbers we haven't gotten any details," said Villegas.

Similar to Villegas, Jared Cole was scammed out of $17,000.

He says in 2009, he wrote several checks to Maxwell Turner and Associates for different amounts.

He, too, says four years later, he hasn't received anything.

"What's going on? Why aren't the businesses in Kern County getting some of that money back? If it's pennies on the dollar, it's pennies on the dollar, but at least there's something," said Cole.

The DA's office says in 2010, all victim restitutions in the case was to be handled by the U.S. Attorney's office.

"What happens from here on out is the actual process of liquidating these assets and then the office back in Washington, D.C. reviewing the claims by the 450 people who have submitted claims and then distributing the proceeds," said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner.

Wagner says some of the assets include cash, several cars, and a diamond ring, adding up to nearly a million dollars.

The losses for the victims in the scheme is $1.3 million.

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