Senior veterans are starting to get the help their service to our country afforded them, after court documents reveal several companies were scamming them.
"They got snookered.. they were lied to by these companies and their representatives," Director of Kern County Veteran Services Department Dick Taylor said.
More than 100 Kern County residents total were affected by the scam, according to Deputy District Attorney John Mitchell.
Mitchell said the companies, Ally Senior Care, Senior Veterans Benefit Advocates and Ally Care Group, all run by Michael McWilliams, would administer minimum care and charge the Department of Veterans Affairs the maximum amount.
"Aide and Attendance is a benefit that is provided to veterans who have served during a time of declared war... [It provides] assistance with activities of daily living. That can be things like showering, cooking, bathing, taking their medication," Mitchell said.
About 30 veterans were receiving direct care from these companies. Taylor said this scam has financially crippled some families.
"Some of them ended up in debt over this...They fleeced a lot of people out of a lot of money," Taylor said.
The most money was taken when veterans started to realize the scam. McWilliams would charge up to $2,000 each month for services, but only provide $300-$500 worth of services.
McWilliams claimed he was "banking" the extra money for possible future expenses, but he spent it, according to Mitchell.
Some of the victims tried to cancel their contract with the companies owned by McWilliams, when they saw what was happening. He then turned them into the VA for fraud.
"About a half dozen of these individuals got letters from the VA telling them that they owed up to $13,000 and they were going to have to pay that back," Mitchell said.
All of the veterans are now with legitimate home care companies, according to Mitchell, and he is working with the families to settle the debt.