BOSSIER PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — Bossier families speak out after saying they were scammed out of thousands of dollars by a local company.
The families say they paid the contractor to build pools in their backyards, but the pools were not built. They found out that the company had lost their license, leaving them thousands of dollars. Among the victims are a veteran and a child with special needs.
Beth Woods shows us where to put her pool. She said she paid the Bossier company called Artistic Backyard Creations more than $30,000 in deposits to install the pool.
“Finally we had enough savings and got to the point where we could comfortably afford it financially,” said Beth Woods.
Beth said the pool project was her idea. She said she did her research, interviewed the business owners, and picked them because some of her neighbors used them too.
“Talked to our neighbors and looked at their pools. Unfortunately their pools were not ready as it had been raining all spring and they had to shut down all their pools. We thought that was the reasoning and we kind of overlooked that,” Woods said.
She said she wanted the pool for her husband Mark. They are facing a difficult timeline in their lives. Mark has stage four cancer. So she wanted to give him something to enjoy with the time they have left.
“They told us they were building a swimming pool for a St. Jude kid, it really touched us. We informed them about my husband’s stage four cancer, and he told us how he had cancer. So we just felt like they were the perfect fit,” Beth said.
She discovered that the St. Jude child was actually her neighbor’s daughter. But her father Chris Tuminello said she was not a St. Jude child. He had paid out of his own pocket to have a swimming pool built as well.
“The reason for her pool was her for therapy for her for her situation. That was the reason for her,” Tuminello said.
Chris’s daughter, Juliana, has Rett syndrome and her doctors recommended swimming for physical therapy. His wife also investigated the company.
“We have done our homework. My wife did her homework. But they are that good at what they do. The fewer people this can happen to, the better,” Tuminelllo said.
He said the company came out and dug a hole, but never came back.
“From now on I have a hole in my yard and that’s it. If we called them and asked when they were coming, it would be one excuse after another,” Tuminelllo said.
The Woods said they got even less for what they paid.
“Basically $30 to $32,000 for spray paint and stakes in the ground. That’s what we have,” said Mark Woods.
Beth said the contractor told her they had obtained permits to build the pool, but then she called the Bossier Parish permit office.
“They have informed me that permits have been requested from our property, but they have not been granted,” Woods said.
We contacted the company owned by Steven Cantu. He said he is selling the company.
“How is your business right now, you said someone is taking it over?
‘Yes, I am in a position to sell it. That was months ago, I think,” Steven Cantu said over the phone.
“So how does it work if you’re currently selling your business, but you say you’re installing these pools that these people paid for?”
“I mean, they’ve taken all the responsibility and accountability and everything, so I guess I don’t know what exactly is going on, or what exactly is going on,” Cantu said.
He said no one has been scammed and the process is taking a long time due to nationwide issues.
“What is your overall message to these families who feel they have been ripped off in this situation, are being ripped off in this situation?”
“Scammed I don’t know how to respond to that because no one has been scammed, you know there is a process and we have to do our job or else we can’t do it. I don’t know if we have multiple satisfied customers. It’s hard for me to respond to that,” Cantu said.
Beth said she contacted the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office after finding other families using the same company under contractors Steven and Fab Cantu.
“We all started getting together and taking notes. So far I’ve been in touch with 25 families who are all in the same boat,” Beth said.
She thinks they’ve all been abused.
“We are very aware that my $30 to $32,000 is gone and I’m never going to see it again. I believe in justice,” Beth said.
They shared their experience to ensure that other families do not fall victim to the fraud.
Mark, who is also a retired Army Ranger, shares his message.
“Extremely frustrated. But as Christians, they were still forgiven. We just want to see justice,” said Mark.
Chris said he wants other families like him to know about it.
“I feel worse for her. It’s not me or my wife. It’s not about us. It was for her. You just feel awful. Anyone with children like this or similar situations, you don’t want that on anyone,” Tuminello said.
The Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office said they are investigating the company.
Deputies said if there are any families also affected by the contractors, they should contact the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office.