Published: Mar 23, 2012 3:55 AM EDT
Updated: Mar 23, 2012 4:57 AM EDT

NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A North Fort Myers couple is out thousands of dollars.  They say they hired a man to build them a pool but instead of doing the work, he took off with their cash.  That couple told WINK News, they were willing not to press charges if the suspect paid them back.

Last year, Walter and Carol Bunn put a bid out for a pool and thought they did all their research but nearly $7,500 later, they learned that wasn't the case at all.

"We come down about five months a year and I've got a bad back and the pool is just a must," said Walter Bunn.

For Walter Bunn, having a pool at his Florida home was something he planned on last year.

"We went online and contacted about five pool installers or manufacturers or contractors I guess you would call them and he was one of them," said Walter.

The contracted worker was James Dalton, 38.  He quoted a price of $20,000

"We went and looked at three different pools and they were nice jobs and it turned out it was the pool guy's job, it wasn't Dalton's job," said Walter.

The Bunns say they gave Dalton a $6,700 payment and another $472 weeks later when Dalton asked for money for cement work.

"Really got worried when we didn't hear from him for a long time," said Walter.

Then Dalton disappeared.

"We were emailing him mostly and every now and then we'd talk to him on the phone and he kept acting like he was having trouble," said Walter.

Two months later, Dalton had a subcontractor clear land to build the pool but he reportedly never paid.

"He really was a smooth talker, I'll be honest with you," said Walter.

"Contracts don't mean nothing if one party is not on the up and up," said Carol Bunn.

Dalton is in jail accused of grand theft and contracting without a license.  The Bunns say its an expensive lesson they hope others can learn from.

"Everything was all legal on there and all that but I believe now I'd do a little more research," said Walter.

"Anybody can be scammed because we had a business of our own, we're intelligent people and we should have really checked things out before we signed any contract," said Carol.

The Bunns have yet to see any of the money they lost but they did hire another company to build them a pool.