KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A contractor suspected of scamming a Knoxville woman has been arrested in Monroe County on similar allegations.
Authorities in Madisonville charged the contractor with theft after taking money from a customer to build a pool but never finishing the job. In July, WATE’s Don Dare spoke with Tara Noel who hired Hunter Mason, who operates HM Pools of Sweetwater, to build a pool for her in August 2021. However, in late October 2021, Noel said work had stopped.
“He wanted the money upfront and he was gone. He just took the money and left,” said Noel. “It is just horrible. It’s been a year of just stress. Every day you look outside it is just horrible. He just sucked me in, I’m going to take care of everything for you. We’re going to get your daughter’s pool in. I’m going to have everything done and ready for you. He just, I believed him.”
In July, Mason told Dare he would return Noel’s money and make it right, but he never did. Noel had to hire a second pool contractor to complete the job.
On November 3, the front page of the Monroe County Buzz featured Mason’s police mug shot. The headline reads “Swimming pool Chicanery. Pool digger takes money, splits.”
A complaint filed in the Monroe County Court by a Madisonville woman explains that she paid Mason $28,000 for supplies, however, after he dug the hole for the pool he stopped working and she “has not been able to get in touch with him since” The complaint was filed in late August.
“Same story all over again. He is scamming people,” said Noel.
The felony charge against Mason is theft by contractor fraud.
“I’m excited. That is one step in the right direction of where we need to go for his day to come to pay back all the families that he has done wrong to,” said Noel.
She has since filed her own charges against Mason for the unfinished job.
“Realizing that nothing was going to happen, he wouldn’t do the right thing, wouldn’t give me my money back. So I went to Knox County and filed a police report first. From there they sent me up to the District Attorney. They took my case,” said Noel.
Six weeks ago, Mason sent a text apparently to appease Noel.
“He puts. Would you send me your address, I’m putting your check in the mail today,” said Noel. However, to date, she has not received a check from Mason.
“I’m just going to keep going until I get my money back and get what we deserve for this family for my kid,” said Noel.
Court records from Monroe County state Mason started to make payments to the Madisonville woman, but then they stopped. WATE tried to reach Mason for comment, but there’s been no response.
Under state law, if a contractor starts a job, but doesn’t finish it and does not respond to your demand letter, you can file a felony charge. The complainant in Monroe County did that and Noel did the same thing in Knox County. Mason’s trial in Madisonville is scheduled for early January.