TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Customers of Cox Pools of the Gulf Coast say they paid tens of thousands of dollars for pools they never got. Cox Pools was already in hot water with Hillsborough County officials and now customers say the company is unresponsive, leaving them high and dry.

Esther Hawkins, of Riverview, says Cox Pools started work on her backyard pool in March 2021 and stopped showing up nearly a year ago.

“This has been a horror to live with, an unfinished pool that’s paid for and not being finished,” she said.

Hawkins and her husband are left with green gunk, abandoned materials and a big bill on their $59,000 loan. Now, she can’t reach anyone from Cox Pools.

“All of the numbers are now deleted. Emails, nothing, they’re returned. No communication whatsoever with cox pools.”

In February, citing numerous life and safety issues, Hillsborough County suspended permitting privileges for Cox Pools for a year and told the company to finish work on its 50 unfinished jobs.

Hillsborough County officials say the company closed 26 permits since then and 12 permits were taken over by new contractors, and the company has 14 permits still open.

Some customers tell me they ended up paying tens of thousands of dollars more to finish pools while others don’t have the cash to do that.

Customers have filed complaints with state authorities and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

In February, owner Hillary Bello told investigative reporter Shannon Behnken that she would finish all the pools. Now, her phone is disconnected.