FORT PIERCE, Fla. (CBS12) — The owners of a swimming pool company are accused of defrauding customers in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast out of at least $2 million.
The Florida Department of Law Enforecement arrested 39-year-old Chrystal Washburn and 34-year-old Brian Washburn, the owners of Amoré Pools. The FDLE said the couple defrauded customers in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Brevard Counties.
Investigators said the pair took large deposits, 25 percent down, from homeowners to build in-ground residential swimming pools but never completed the projects. Some projects were abandoned before any work was done.
Josie Maldonado was among them.
“Sometimes I would just sit in the backyard in a chair and cry,” she told CBS12 News. Maldonado said Amore Pool’s low prices and promises of quick construction convinced her to do business with them. She and her husband ended up paying for 70 percent of the project, about $28,000, only to be left with a hole in their backyard.
Maldonado said they are now hiring new contractors and doing work themselves to try and finish the project.
Investigators say the Washburns used a third party check cashing store to convert the checks into cash in an effort to “conceal the illicit funds,” the FDLE said.
Chrystal Washburn faces seven counts of identity theft, four counts of money laundering, insurance fraud and other charges.
Brian Washburn faces four counts of money laundering, organized scheme to defraud, providing false info on application for contractor’s license, unlicensed contractor in state of emergency, false/fraudulent statement, insurance fraud, and seven counts of identity theft.
“The defendants took thousands of dollars in upfront payments, then dug holes in customers’ backyards with no intention of ever finishing the work they were paid to complete,” said Attorney General Ashley Moody. “This fraudulent pool-contracting scheme harmed dozens of Floridians and violated several state laws. We will make sure these defendants are held accountable for their criminal actions.”