The owners of a Vero Beach pool business are facing fraud charges related to money taken from customers with no intent to ever complete the job. The company, which has been in business for just over two years, is accused of defrauding at least 150 customers of over $2 million.
The couple is now facing 16 felony counts of money laundering, organized schemes to defraud, identity theft, insurance fraud, and forgery. Customers complained that they were taking “way too long” to finish projects and in most cases, those projects were never completed. Customers were asked to pay large upfront deposits, but once those deposits were paid, the company would begin to slow down, eventually stopping altogether.
According to police, the owner did not have a license to build pools and lied about it to authorities when setting up her business. She also forged the signatures of contractors and work permit signatures. The customers’ checks were cashed but never placed into business accounts making the money more difficult to find. The owners used third-party check cashing services to take the money and run.
Money laundering is a very generic term. While you might be inclined to think that money launderers do things like buy businesses and then cook the books (which they do), it also applies to other activities such as structuring transactions that must be reported by law in such a manner that it makes them impossible to track. If, for example, you were cashing your customers’ checks at a third-party check cashing service so that the transfers had no paper trail, then that too would be considered money laundering because you have the intent to conceal and deceive authorities. So even though this isn’t an advanced form of money laundering like you would see in hit TV shows like Ozark and Breaking Bad, it is still money laundering.
Saying you’re going to do something for money, taking the money, and then not doing what you say you’re going to do is a very basic form of fraud. It may not involve a concerted effort to beguile, but it does involve some effort. Nonetheless, the prosecutors will need to prove that the defendants intended to never fulfill their end of the bargain. They have ample proof that they did not fulfill their end of the bargain, but do they have some excuse? Maybe they were still looking for a guy who could come in and pour the concrete and that would explain why the jobs are never completed.
Even still, authorities have them on several breach of contract violations for which their civil liability would be the cost of the job times three for punitive damages. They also have them on insurance fraud, forgery, lying on official documents, and misusing business funds.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’re facing serious charges, call the West Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today to schedule an appointment and discuss your options for fighting the charges in court.