AGOURA HILLS ( — More than a dozen people have filed small-claims cases against an Agoura Hills doctor, stating that they were never paid as promised for participating in medical research.

CBS2 investigative reporter David Goldstein paid a visit to Jay Udani, the CEO of a company called Medicus Research. But the doctor did not want to talk about why his company has left people like Vickie Ellington high and dry.

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“I feel like I was completely suckered,” said Ellington, a Torrance resident who, like many middle-age men and women, was looking to lose weight.

She found an ad for Staywell Research on Craigslist. The company offered to pay $1,000 for a weight loss study.

“My thinking at the time was kill two birds with one stone,” Ellington said. “Lose weight and make money.”

She said all she had to do was sample and new product and keep a diary.

“The idea is not to diet, it’s to put this on all your food and eventually it curbs your appetite,” Ellington said.

She said she completed the six-month study in May, and was promised to get paid whether she lost weight or not. But both the results and her money never materialized.

“I never lost weight. I never got paid,” Ellington said.

And she’s not alone. There are dozens of people who have complained online about signing up for studies with Staywell and never seeing a dime for all sorts of research.

“I’m feeling upset over being gyped out of $1,175,” said Stephanie Payne of Van Nuys, who said she completed a diabetes study last year and didn’t see any money. “I called every two weeks.”

Eventually, the company offered an installment plan in October, promising her weekly payments of $235.

“I got the first check. I put it in the bank and it bounced three weeks later,” Payne said.

Staywell Research is run by Medicus Research, which is located in a building in Agoura Hills and operated in part by Udani, a doctor who has a very impressive resume online.

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Dr. Udani claims to have his own theory of clinical trials. A licensed physician with the California Medical Board, he seems to have a good standing in the industry according to a video that states “Dr. Jay Udani’s reputation precedes him.”

When Goldstein wanted to find out why more than a dozen people have filed cases against Udani, the doctor tried to protect that reputation.

“Doctor, can I talked with you a second,” Goldstein asked. “A lot of people claim you owe them money. They went through the research and your company hasn’t paid a dime.”

The doctor claims he “is” paying.

“I’m working with my team to take care of all this,” he said.

“Why is it taking so long,” Goldstein asked. “It’s been months. People have bounced checks. Why is that?”

Udani didn’t answer, getting in an elevator to get to his office and blocking the camera. The doctor eventually made his way to the garage, only repeating the same line.

“We have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said.

“Can you give me some proof,” Goldstein asked.

“Yes, give me your card and I’ll send you proof,” Udani said.

Udani never provided any proof, Goldstein reported.

Meanwhile, Ellington found a better way to lose weight.

“I changed the way I eat and started exercising,” she said.

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But she still wants to get paid.

David Goldstein