TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Cox Pools of the Gulf Coast and its owner Hillary Bello, both subjects of an ongoing Better Call Behnken investigation, face a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Ashley Moody.
The business practices outlined in Moody’s lawsuit were first exposed in Better Call Behnken reports in 2022.
According to the AG’s office, Cox Pools of the Gulf Coast, LLC, and its owner, Hillary Bello, accepted payments from at least 27 customers who were promised construction services but were left with unfinished pools or holes in their backyards.
“Cox Pools and its owner ripped off more than 25 Florida consumers, taking more than $1.5 million and never finishing the agreed-upon jobs,” Moody said.
An investigation also revealed that the company refused to issue refunds for consumers with abandoned work.
“This is unacceptable,” Moody added. “And we are taking action to permanently ban this owner from operating a pool business.”
The civil complaint argues that Cox Pools misrepresented the timeline for pools to be built, causing customers to wait longer than a year for an unfinished pool.
Cox Pools customers harmed by the defendants can file a complaint with the Florida Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-(866) 9NO-SCAM or visiting MyFloridalegal.com.
This civil lawsuit follows criminal charges in Hillsborough and Manatee counties.
Bello was arrested by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office twice, first for charges in Manatee and then on a warrant from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Bello has been charged with embezzlement and organized fraud and contractor fraud. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said the charges involve six victims, however, dozens of customers have complained of unfinished pools.
Bello was previously arrested in December by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office on one charge of contractor fraud.