Customers react to continuing arrests of SC pool contractor accused of scamming
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A Lowcountry pool contractor is now facing charges in Calhoun, Charleston and Orangeburg Counties after allegedly taking over $300,000 from customers to begin installing pools they never began working on.
Thomas Wayne Riley, Lowcountry Fiberglass Pools owner, and Mike Arant, manager of sales and service for the company, began operating throughout different areas of the Lowcountry to install fiberglass pools for customers beginning in July 2020.
Live 5 first investigated Lowcountry Fiberglass Pools on March 10, when several customers came forward, claiming they were out thousands of dollars after the company agreed to install pools they never began working on.
Riley was charged with eight counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent greater than $10,000 on April 6 in Calhoun County, with bond posted at $80,000.
On April 13, Riley was charged in Charleston County with four counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent greater than $10,000. He posted a $100,000 bond and was released later that day from the Al Cannon Detention Center.
Christine Dufficy, who lost $30,000 when signing her Lowcountry Fiberglass Pools contract over two years ago, attended Riley’s bond hearing in Charleston.
“When they put an ankle monitor on him, it kind of made us feel a little vindicated, because I feel like every morning, he has to look at it and every night he has to look at it. Maybe he’s thinking about what he did,” Dufficy says.
During the Calhoun County bond hearing, Sgt. Larry Vanicek with the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office, said Riley continued taking deposits for pools he never began building and used that money to pay his kids’ tuition, go on fishing trips and go to concerts.
Another customer Colleen Chrien, who lost $30,000, said when she heard Riley had used their money for his personal use, it hit the hardest.
“We all have children that we have put through college, and to feel like here’s a person who thinks so little of their own family values that they’re not going to go out and get an honest job; and it’s like he felt it’s better to take money from other people to try to provide for his own family without working for it,” Chrien says.
“I think that for me, when I heard that, it spoke so much to his character and that any shred of that benefit of the doubt that might have been there for me was gone,” she adds.
After looking into previous lawsuits against Riley, there have been multiple dismissed cases in the last decade for debt collection and foreclosure in the Lowcountry.
The customers also hope that Arant faces legal action since he was the one who worked with the customers directly.
“We would love for Mike to be held accountable because he is the one that came to our house,” Dufficy says. “We’ve only dealt with Mike; He came and took our checks when he knew he wasn’t going to do a pool.”
Since Riley has posted bond both in Charleston and Calhoun Counties, the customers are still seeking justice.
“I know that they have to give a reasonable bond, but it’s frustrating to know that he would probably bond out again and then that’s just more money that’s being paid that is not going back to victims,” Chrien says. “That part is a little bit frustrating.”
We will continue to follow this investigation as other counties hold bond hearings.
Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.