Man convicted of securities fraud yet to pay back people who say he scammed them
More than a dozen people want to know where their money is after the man they trusted to invest it is convicted of securities fraud.
A judge ordered Michael Flores to pay it all back, but he hasn't done so. He's now a free man, off of probation.
Thomas and Tracy Schmitz and David and Marilyn Helten are four of many who say they were scammed out of thousands of dollars by Michael J. Flores.
For years, Flores' victims say they thought he was investing their money, and some even saw a return on their investment. But it all dried up following a phone call from a man with bad news.
"The investigator contacted us and said, 'hey, do you know this gentleman? Are you giving him money? If you are, we suggest you stop doing that,'" Thomas Schmitz says.
Marilyn Helten says she started to have a funny feeling that something about Flores wasn't right.
"It seemed like it got harder and harder to get a hold of him," she says. "It got to the point where he wasn't answering any calls."
Eventually, Flores was convicted on one count of securities fraud and his victims were asked whether they'd like to see him serve jail time or pay them back the money he'd taken from them.
"If he was going to pay restitution, I would rather have that because you naturally want your money back and you still learn the same lesson, I think," David Helten says.
In all, Flores was ordered to pay back more than $91,000 to his victims. Over the course of five years, he managed to pay back about 16 percent of that.
Last year, payments stopped and it was soon discovered Flores was no longer on probation. Court documents tell the same story that the somewhat sporadic and modest payments Flores was making stopped just six months after he was released from probation.
The Heltens and Schmitzes both want to know where their money is, especially after taking a look at Fores' social media accounts that show him going out to eat at nice restaurants, going on ski trips and golf outings and attending Kansas City Royals' games,.
Flores didn't want to be interviewed on camera, but he did sit down with FactFinder 12 to answer questions. He says for what it's worth, he was in the wrong and he apologizes. He says the reason he quit paying restitution is because he lost his job and has trouble finding work because he's now a felon.
Flores says the trips he's taken were paid for by friends or business associates and a Mercedes he bought is a 2002 model. He also says he's set up new payment arrangements to pay back his victims through the credit agency now handling his debt.
Flores says it's only a coincidence he made those arrangements after FactFinder 12 contacted him.