"The unrest is growing," says Ronnie Sue Ambrosino. A 56-year-old retired computer programmer, Ronnie Sue and her husband Dominic, 48, a retired New York City Corrections Officer, had spent the last four years travelling the United States in their 42-foot motor home. Their $1.66 million life's savings wiped out, they are currently stalled in an Arizona RV park where site owners are allowing them to park rent free. "First and foremost I'll say SIPC has been negligent. That's number one. They have not been prompt," she says.
But beyond the Securities Investor Protection Corp, which helps protect burned investors, Ambrosino and numerous others have anger at the Department of Justice and the Security and Exchange Commission for what appears to them to be a sloppy orchestration of efforts that does not feel as though it is in the investor's best interest.
"I don't have a lot of confidence in the information that is being sent out," she says. Ambrosino's mission now – through media appearances, articles, letters, helping to organize the Madoff Survivors and web postings at secure site bernardmadfoffvictims.org and telephone calls - is to get attention to the victims' plight.
"The frustration level is rising. We have educated ourselves. We have learned the intricacies. Nobody is listening," she says.
The Ambrosinos and the other direct investors with Madoff are covered for up to $500,000 by a fund set up under the Securities Investor Protection Act and overseen by the Securities Investor Protection Corp, a not-for-profit funded by securities brokers and dealers whose mandate is to act as a first line of defense for investors whose brokerage house went belly up. In the instance of Madoff's victims, Irving Picard, the court appointed bankruptcy for Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, is acting as the claims arbitrator.
"Claims are processed on a regular basis," according to lawyer David Sheehan, the senior investigator for Picard.
In addition to the $15 million already paid. ABC News has learned that another $5 million in SIPC money is approved for payment to another 10 claimants as soon as documentation is received, perhaps as early as this week, according to the trustee's office. In general, Picard's office prefers to be fairly methodical and not address investor questions on an individual basis as they go through the process of identifying and securing Madoff assets, determining the validity of claims, and disbursing money to the victims through the SIPC fund and, at some future point, through the assets recovered from Madoff.
"The Trustee and his staff appreciate the sense of urgency that attaches to each individual's customer claim. However, under the circumstances of this liquidation proceeding, neither the Trustee nor his staff is in a position to advise about the status of or the time frame for the determination of any particular claim," notes the trustee's website www.madofftrustee.com.
But the satisfaction or partial satisfaction of a handful of claims has done little to quell anger and frustration by hundreds and hundreds of victims – relatively small investors in many cases – who had placed their life savings or a large portion of it in Madoff's hands, believing it to be a safe harbor from the volatility of Wall Street.