After years of investigation and over 100 victims, an arrest has been made in connection with the alleged Olympus Pools fraud in Florida. A press conference held today August 15 details the case and counts that Olympus Pools owner James Staten now faces.
According to the conference, in October of 2021, multiple sheriff's offices across Tampa Bay received complaints regarding James Staten and Olympus Pools. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office initiated a criminal investigation into Staten and Olympus Pools, identifying 140 victims across Hillsborough, Pasco County, Polk, Manatee, Sarasota, and Pinellas Counties.
The investigative analysis zeroed in on 31 of the 140 victims, each of the 31 sharing similar fact patterns and depicting the same fraudulent scheme. Agents were able to determine that Staten fraudulently utilized in excess of 1.5 million dollars from his victims, using it for exorbitant purchases in his everyday life since 2020.
Olympus Pool was in serious financial trouble in 2020; despite knowing that, Staten continued his scheme. When he eventually ran out of money, agents say that Staten would move on to prey on more people to continue to fund his lavish purchases. Some victims used their entire life savings and retirement funds to build their dream pool, a dream that Staten continued to take advantage of.
Agents subpoenaed multiple of Staten's personal and business accounts, loans, and credit cards; despite facing difficulty in the sheer number and amount of money seeing movement, the numbers told the story: Staten was moving around business funds to personal accounts to live a lifestyle beyond his means.
This lifestyle included vacations, jewelry, vehicles, home improvements, and high-end designer purchases totaling approximately $70,000 per month. Agents were able to determine that Staten took family and employees on several all-expenses paid trips to Key West, Jamaica, and Las Vegas, as well as spent $10,000 per month on private school and $53,000 on Superbowl 55 in Tampa, among other large-scale purchases.
How did the scheme work?
The homeowner would meet with one of Olympus Pool's sales reps to discuss the vision for building their dream pool. Olympus Pools would usually require about a 10% down payment, or, if unsuspecting customers wanted to pay in full, they'd receive a discounted rate and assurances of a quicker timeline of completion.
The average completion time for a pool is about 6 months, but in a majority of cases, Staten's pools never saw completion.
After months of little to no communication, Olympus Pools would reach out to victims, asking for payments for different portions of the construction. Once they received payments, Olympus Pools would then hire sub-contractors to complete the work, which would never occur.
Many customers saw construction liens placed on their properties through no fault of their own, with several pools sitting idly for months and would never see completion. Customers would attempt to get their money back — contacting Staten and the business by letters or getting lawyers — Staten would simply ignore and not respond.
Today, Staten is under arrest, held on a 2.8 million dollar bond in the Pasco County Jail. He faces 1 Count of Aggravated White Collar Crime, 1 count of Organized Scheme to Defraud, 20 County of Grand Theft, 8 counts of Misapplication of Construction Funds, and 5 counts of Contractor Fraud.
As for others involved in the running of the company, their fate is yet to be determined; the investigation continues. If more information becomes available, Uncovering Florida will update this article.
Article by Rachael Volpe