CHICAGO (CBS) — A woman went to Sono Bello because she wanted to make herself feel better and lose weight, but instead she lost her life savings.
CBS 2 Investigator Dorothy Tucker is looking into where her money went.
The ordeal Nicole Wildenhain said it was her dream to slim down like the commercials from Sono Bello promised.
“What I put myself through, just because I want to look better,” she said. “I want to get rid of the bottom of my belly.”
“Sono Bello board certified surgeons can remove body fat in as little as one day,” Sono Bello promotional ads promise.
Wildenhain took the money she had been saving for years, and met with Dr. Jeffrey Flagg at the Sono Bello office in Schaumburg where she paid $9, 883 in cash.
“They promise to get rid of tummy and I will be flat like a doll. I will be beautiful,” Wildenhain said.
Wildenhain was set to go through with the weight loss procedure until her primary physician advised against it, claiming it was not a good idea due to her high blood pressure.
When Wildenhain requested a full refund, managers at Sono Bello were initially reluctant, but finally agreed to refund her money and FedEx a refund check.
“I’m very happy,” Wildenhain initially thought when she received the refund check in the mail. Her joy, however, ended when she tried to cash the check.
When she went to Wells Fargo in Schaumburg on Saturday, she was told that the check might be fake.
CBS 2 Dorothy Tucker was with Wildenhain when she tried to call Sono Bello about the allegedly fraudulent refund check. A representative from Sono Bello assured her that the check was valid and said she had personally called the bank and advised Wildenhain to go back.
When Wildenhain went back to the bank, she was still unable to cash the check.
“The check’s not registered,” she stated.
Sono Bello has 16 clinics in 12 states. The company has an A plus rating with the Better Business Bureau, but only because it responds to all complaints. Of the 53 complaints this year, some are similar to Wildenhains.
One customer wrote, “Over a month later, they have yet to refund any of my money.”
Wildenhain said she is sharing her story in order to warn others.
“$10,000 almost! I saved for a long time. I need this money back,” she stated. “I’m more depressed than I was before.”
A company spokesman said Sono Bello has successfully performed more than 100,000 cosmetic procedures and that the company is working on sending Wildenhain another check.