STUART, Fla. — WPTV Contact 5 was able to track down a saleswoman for a pool company that has taken thousands of dollars from people all over the Treasure Coast and left them with unfinished pools.
"About where we’re standing, there will be an island with a sunken, swim up bar," AJ Aleixo told WPTV.
Aleixo is describing his dream pool.
"Over here, there will be a big rock, grotto waterfall," Aleixo said.
Aleixo said he met with Pro Pool Builders in Stuart a few months ago, almost hiring them for the $300,000 project. He was planning on paying the $30,000 deposit last week.
"My wife woke me up this morning and said the first segement that she saw was Pro Pool Builders on TV," Aleixo said.
Aleixo's wife saw Contact 5’s story on Wednesday when several Treasure Coast homeowners called WPTV about Pro Pool Builders. They each gave the company thousands of dollars for a deposit, and all they have now is a big hole in their backyards.
Some homeowners haven’t heard from the company in weeks, while others haven’t heard from them in over a month.
WATCH WPTV'S REPORT:
“We just need to stop them from continuing to do this,” Stephen Ferreira, a homeowner in Fort Pierce, told WPTV last week.
“We did give them $50,000 and we haven’t seen them since,” Annmarie Pisani Broeren, a homeowner in Port St. Lucie, said.
Contact 5 called several numbers for the owner. All of our calls went straight to voicemail. We also stopped by the office in Stuart several times. The door is locked and no one is there.
After seeing Contact 5’s first story, Aleixo called the WPTV newsroom. He said representatives with Pro Pool Builders were scheduled to come pick up his large deposit late last week.
WATCH WPTV'S FIRST REPORT:
Contact 5 stopped by and confronted a woman who showed up to that appointment.
"I will talk with you but turn off the camera," a saleswoman said to Contact 5’s Jessica Bruno.
"Well can you just tell us what’s going on with Pro Pools?” Bruno asked.
"I have no idea. I quit Pro Pools weeks ago. So, I don’t work for them,” she replied.
“AJ called who he believed was Pro Pools. He had a business card,” Bruno said.
"I am trying to help my customers. Whatever Pro Pool Builders did wasn’t right. That is why I quit long time ago. The way how they prosper, I didn’t like it,” she said.
She told WPTV she was there on behalf of a different company, even though Aleixo was expecting Pro Pool Builders.
Contact 5 asked her if she knew where the owner, George Galiszewski, is. She said, “no one knows.”
"Now we’re up to north of two dozens people who said they’ve given money to the company and received no services or not full service,” Martin County Sheriff William Snyder told WPTV.
The Martin County Sheriff’s Office is one of three agencies that are now investigating complaints about Pro Pool Builders, along with the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office and the city of Port St. Lucie.
"We’re at the very beginning of the investigation. We’re not sure yet what we have, if we have slow business practices or if we have some kind of mismanagement of funds,” Sheriff Snyder said. "We’re going through financials now and that will give us a good picture. A lot of this kind of case is, where has the money gone that the people who have given deposits, where is that money?”
Snyder told WPTV that his son, State Rep. John Snyder, R-Palm City, has agreed to look at the state statute for builders, hoping to make it more protective for the consumer.
“Until they file a 30 day notice, saying that we want you to continue the work, there is no time that’s triggered. A builder can just keep going and going and going and open numerable permits and just have work all over the place they’re not doing,” Snyder said.
In the meantime, people like Aleixo are left wondering who they can trust when hiring a company for such a big, expensive project.
“I would like to see this guy stopped so that nobody else has to deal with being ripped off. Fortunately, I haven’t been ripped off but there are a lot of people out there who have put a lot of money out and see nothing,” Aleixo said.
On Monday, the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office posted this announcement on Facebook: