Year in Review: WMBF Investigates looks at HOA complaints, pool companies, more

Published: Dec. 26, 2019 at 3:57 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – 2019 has been quite the year, from HOA complaints to property scams to construction issues.

One investigation that impacted so many was an investigation into pool companies along the Grand Strand.

Multiple people said they invested tens of thousands of dollars for a backyard pool, only to never have that dream delivered.

"It's only a cement hole with some tile around it," Stephanie Militano said.

These companies were exposed, but the investigation went deeper to find out why this was able to happen again and again.

As it turns out, South Carolina doesn't require licenses for residential pool builders so it's up to municipalities to regulate them. However, in places like Horry County, business licenses weren't checked before issuing pool permits.

"Very upset that the county would be able to do that to people and let them get conned by a man who is taking thousands and thousands of dollars,” Militano said. In another investigation, a family’s Christmas present led to heartache.

"We had him home the day before New Year’s and he died within 12 hours of him coming from the hospital,” Amber Tompkins said.

This family’s puppy wasn’t the only dog who died too soon from Parvo. Multiple families - who all bought dogs from the same woman - found their puppies sick almost immediately.

"She knew about our Parvo dogs in early November and six weeks later she's still selling dogs,” Scott Fields said.

After WMBF’s report, Horry County officials charged the seller with multiple felony counts related to ill treatment of animals and breeding operations.

It took months of reporting and dozens of police reports before another man was charged with breach of trust with fraudulent intent.

WMBF heard from multiple homeowners and renters working with Keye Beach Rentals and its owner Walter Pigg in North Myrtle Beach.

Police reports filed with the North Myrtle Beach Police Department describe months of unpaid rent and owners owed more than $50,000 from Keye Beach Rentals.

Renters drove from as far away as Canada only to find they had no place to stay. The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division began investigating, the real estate license was suspended and North Myrtle Beach police charged Pigg with numerous criminal charges.

Sometimes it just takes one viewer’s complaints to expose a systematic problem. This was the case for a couple who just wanted their car to make it home.

“We were sitting here on the side of the road with a flat and we could just see smoke throughout the whole front of the windshield," Daniel Neumann said.

Their new purchase turned useless. As it turns out, this wasn’t the first complaint against the shop – Ocean Autos.

A WMBF investigation uncovered the state’s consumer affairs department doesn’t have any legal ability to look into complaints and owner Gino Jones didn’t have a business license in the county.

“It’s really kind of sad, kind of sad," Sid Connor said.

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