Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

'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.


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.

Entrepreneur Editors' Picks