Get All Access for $5/mo

'I Gave Him My Life Savings': Investors Sue Swindler Selling Tiny Homes on TikTok for Fraud Matt Sowash, founder of the Colorado-based nonprofit Holy Ground Tiny Homes, is facing two lawsuits.

By Amanda Breen Edited by Jessica Thomas

TikTok is a place where people can present themselves and their products to the world — even if it's all a lie.

Several people who gave money to developer Matt Sowash, founder of the Colorado-based nonprofit Holy Ground Tiny Homes, learned that the hard way, NBC News reported. Now, they're suing the convicted fraudster in federal and state courts.

Related: Housing Market Layoffs: Compass, Redfin Layoffs Explained

The short videos on Sowash's TikTok account, which has nearly 80,000 followers, portray the developer as an energetic, God-fearing man determined to give buyers the affordable home of their dreams — no credit checks required.

@holygroundtinyhomes What's off grid tiny living like?? Learn more on our blog in bio #offgrid #tinyhouseonwheels #tinyhomebuild #offgridlife original sound - Matt at Holy Ground

Many hopeful home-buyers were attracted to Sowash's offer, seeing it as a path to homeownership at a time when the dream of owning one is out of reach for four million Americans, per CNN.

For 24-year-old Clara Virginia Davis, an elementary school teacher in upstate New York, Sowash's "charming" persona and professed love of God sold her on the purchase. She wired him $42,000 in January for an 8-by-28-foot modular home to be delivered by August 1, but it never came.

"I gave him my life savings," Davis told NBC News.

Davis sued Holy Ground in August in U.S. District Court in Colorado; she seeks a refund and other damages.

But Davis isn't the only alleged victim: In February 2021, Oregon resident Robyn Bellamy paid $47,924 for a tiny home to be delivered five months later, and her husband Mark Bellamy began to make payments, ultimately totaling $21,600, for his own. When his wife's home delivery continued to be delayed, he stopped paying Sowash. The Bellamys filed their lawsuit in June in Colorado's Arapahoe County District Court.

Related: This Is How Much You Need to Earn to Rent in a Big City

Sowash claims he's fallen behind on homes because of supply chain issues and increasing costs of construction materials, saying he'd been in contact with the involved parties until they told him to contact their lawyers.

It's not Sowash's first run-in with the law, though: In 2009, he was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing more than $470,000 from investors gambling in an amateur poker league he started and for pilfering $140,000 from three additional investors.

Amanda Breen

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior Features Writer

Amanda Breen is a senior features writer at She is a graduate of Barnard College and received an MFA in writing at Columbia University, where she was a news fellow for the School of the Arts.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business Solutions

Increase Productivity with This Microsoft 365 Subscription, Now $25 Off

It can make the entrepreneur life a lot easier.

Business News

Apple Pay Later Is Ending. Here's What's Taking Its Place.

The program was available for less than a year.


This Artist Answered a Businessman's 'Powerful' Question — Then His Work Became 'the Poster Child for Juneteenth': 'Your Network Really Becomes Your Net Worth'

Reginald Adams was the executive director of a Houston-based art museum for more than a decade before he decided to launch his own public art and design firm.


Harvard Business School Professor Says 65% of Startups Fail for One Reason. Here's How to Avoid It.

Team alignment isn't nice to have -- it's critical for running a successful business.

Business News

Here's What Companies Are Open and Closed on Juneteenth 2024

Since it became a holiday in 2021, Juneteenth has been recognized by some major corporations as a paid day off.

Growing a Business

I Hit $100 Million in Annual Revenue by Being More Transparent — Here Are the 3 Strategies That Helped Me Succeed

Three road-tested ways to be more transparent and build relationships that can transform your business — without leaving you feeling nightmarishly over-exposed.