By Jeff Todd

PARKER, Colo. (CBS4) – The first red flag was raised for Leah Zillner when her photographer canceled on her claiming it was going to rain on a perfectly sunny and dry day. Now, Zillner is like dozens of brides and an estimated 40 associates who say Suzanne Nevill ripped them off and police are investigating.

“I feel like I’m one of the lucky ones who actually got our photos after hassling for months and months to get them,” Zillner said. “It turns out it’s lots of women that are being taken advantage of.”

An image from Suzanne Nevill’s website

Zillner says as she kept hearing excuses from Nevill, other bad reviews started popping up online. Over the past weekend, a large contingent of former clients and associates started sharing stories online.

Two patterns have emerged from stories shared in a Facebook group. Associates say Nevill would request their help with a last-minute plea to shoot a wedding. Many were never paid after filling in. Brides and women who requested boudoir shoots say they paid and then a shoot was never even scheduled.

“There’s no other word to describe how crazy this is,” Zillner said. “The scope of it. The fact that there are so many clients and associates that are out thousands of dollars.”

“At the very beginning I started out as her hair and makeup artist. I would go and drive down to the studio every day which is an hour south of here. Do hair and makeup, have five and six girls a day at $100 a girl. It would add up. She paid me consistently for the first two to three months. She started getting behind, she was like ‘I can send you $100. I can send you $25,’” said Ashlie Hernandez.

She said she worked for Nevill for a few years and has gotten small payments up until August. Hernandez says Nevill owes her $31,156.86.

“She’s owed me over $20,000 for the last three years, and she’ll send me $25 payments, she’ll send me $15 payments. So, it’s not like it’s anything that will ever make a dent into the total,” Hernandez said.

(credit: Ashlie Hernandez)

Nevill didn’t respond to CBS4’s request for comment. She filed for bankruptcy this week, and her attorney said he had no comment on this case. Parker Police say they’ve received at least 15 reports about Nevill as of Wednesday morning, but many more are likely to be filed.

The police say they will work with the 18th Judicial District Attorney to determine if there was criminal intent.

“I do think there is something criminally happening. Suzanne is literally saying I’m going to run sales so I can get some funds in so I can pay people back. I don’t think that’s legal to do,” Zillner said. “When do you realize that you shouldn’t be doing this? Yet, you continue to do it, and that’s where intent comes into play because she knows what she is doing. She’s taking advantage of vulnerable people and she’s doing it so she can have money.”

Zillner and Hernandez say they’re concerned that Nevill has been taking advantage of women when their most vulnerable, either with high-priced wedding packages or boudoir shoots.

“It takes so much courage for these women to come in and see us. They have to break down walls. A lot of women have self-esteem issues, a lot of women have insecurities. When you’re doing nothing, but knocking them down and giving them excuses and taking their money, and making them feel like they’re not worthy, what do you think you’re putting into these people,” Hernandez said.

Jeff Todd