NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — It’s been a decade-long legal battle for victims of the WexTrust Ponzi scheme. The court got them compensation, but it is long overdue and nowhere near the amount they lost.
One victim, Norfolk resident Vivian Orgel, lost everything from the scheme. She says she went from being a millionaire to worrying about the price of ketchup overnight.
“I immediately began to cut back on everything, I had to,” explained Orgel. “Forget about ketchup. Forget about wine. Forget about things that you enjoy, It’s not going to be important. What’s going to be important is your survival.”
Some background on this case: Back in 2008 Norfolk businessman Joseph Shereshevsky and his partner from Chicago, Steven Byers, were found guilty of fraud in federal court. Shereshevsky is serving a 22-year sentence. Byers is serving a 13-year sentence. Orgel says that’s not enough. “It’s crazy, we got life! We got life and he gets out in two more years. He got 13 years I mean how does that make sense?”
A few weeks ago Orgel and other victims received the third and final court ordered payout. 10 years after this ordeal began. And they only got back about 10 percent of what they lost.
Orgel has made it a mission to shed light on fraud schemes like WexTrust. She wants people to know this could happen to anyone, no matter how smart you think you are.
“I really investigated so I thought I was OK,” Orgel said. “How can that happen to me? We had doctors, lawyers, teachers a lot of very intelligent people. It can happen to anyone.”
Vivian now travels around giving lectures on fraud schemes, helping fellow victims fight for what they’re owed, and she even wrote a book called “Betrayed – Investors Tell All – Inside the WexTrust Ponzi Scheme.”