Vero Beach pool business owner husband arrested for defrauding customers
The owner of a swimming pool business in Vero Beach and her husband were arrested for taking money from customers, which police said with no intention of completing the job.
Amore Pools Inc., based in Vero Beach, has been in business for just over two years. But Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators said they’ve already defrauded more than 150 clients of at least $ 2 million.
According to the FDLE, investigators arrived at Chrystal and Brian Washburn’s home on Tuesday morning and arrested the couple, each on 16 counts of money laundering, organized fraud scheme and identity theft, linked falsification of official documents and insurance fraud.
Chrystal faces at least a million dollar bond, officials said.
According to the reservation documents, Brian does not have a deposit.
A neighbor recorded video showing the arrest at the Washburns home where investigators said they also seized cars and a work truck.
WPTV heard complaints from customers about Amore Pools in June, saying the company was taking too long to complete projects, in most cases never finishing the job.
FDLE investigators said they became involved in July. And during their investigation, they confirmed that nearly 150 customers shared a similar story with them.
According to investigators, clients would pay large down payments upfront and for more than half of the total project, but that’s when the work would stop or slow down so much that they would end up firing the company.
Officials said Chrystal lied about her request to be able to build swimming pools in Port St. Lucie, which was the approval used by other counties or cities to also allow Amore to build Jupiter Pools in Treasure Coast. , Okeechobee and Brevard County.
The FDLE said the Washburns had forged signatures on some permits or even the signatures of subcontractors.
Investigators also said customers’ checks were cashed but never deposited into business accounts, making that money harder to find.
“Our investigation revealed that they were not using traditional banking institutions to cash checks,” FDLE said. “They were basically using a third-party cash control store to collect these moneys in and out.”
This type of survey usually takes between 6 months and a year. But the FDLE said the case moved quickly because they wanted to “stop the bleeding” and protect more potential victims.
“We couldn’t let these scammers in our community continue to perpetrate this crime,” FDLE said. “I think it is shameful and disgusting that there are people in this world who take advantage of good, honest and hardworking people for their own greed.”
The counties of St Lucia, Martin, Indian River and the town of Stuart had previously suspended or revoked Amore’s ability to build new swimming pools before the arrest due to complaints.
As a result, investigators said they spent time following the Washburns, finding that they were trying to find new businesses in the Orlando area, the Palm Beach County area and even Sarasota.
Chrystal and Brian Washburn are in the Indian River County Jail.
Scripps content only 2021