Colorado Tiny Home Customer Hires Private Investigator to Help Recover $46K Down Payment

Private investigators help uncover valuable asset information for Colorado plaintiffs and investors.

Screenshot of Holy Ground Tiny Homes headline from BusinessDen

Lori Birckhead had a problem. She’d placed a $46.5K deposit to Colorado-based Holy Ground Tiny Homes and its founder Matt Sowash in April. This was in exchange for an expected July delivery of a 224-square-foot tiny home. Then, this summer, with no tiny home delivery in sight and repeated calls to the builder left unreturned, an assistant at the company finally admitted to Birckhead that delivery of the completed home would take another two years.

“That’s when I hired a private investigator who did some digging and discovered that [Sowash] didn’t have any assets in his name,” Birckhead told NBC News, according to an October 22 report published by Business Insider.

Sowash is now under criminal investigation and Holy Ground Tiny Homes has filed for bankruptcy. He’s left other customers in significant financial distress and some without a place to live, according to local Fox News affiliate KDVR.  

Sowash, who was already a convicted felon and ex-con when he launched the HGTH non-profit, promoted the tiny home business on TikTok, where he had nearly 80,000 followers. There he made posts “portraying an upbeat, God-fearing man selling the American Dream — affordable homes with financing and no credit checks,” according to NBC News.

Local media outlet launches national coverage

Local news outlet BusinessDen originally broke the story about Sowash’s efforts to keep selling tiny houses despite past customers not receiving their tiny homes and subsequent litigation on August 29th. The story has gained momentum in the media since then, leading to the recent national coverage.

Theresa Meggit of Lakewood is a HGTH customer who’s out $14,000.  “I knew he had been a former prisoner, ex-con, but I do believe in second chances,” she told KDVR. Other tiny home-less customers include Virginia Owen, a disabled 61-year-old Texas resident who wired $50K to Holy Ground in May in exchange for delivery of a tiny home in 10 weeks. By end of July there was no home and she was being evicted, according to reporting by BusinessDen/The Denver Post.

Private investigators can help mitigate risk on large purchases or investments by providing an asset search as part of, or as the key focus of an investigation. An asset investigation identifies tangible and intangible assets owned by a business or individual. An investigator will be able to provide valuable financial information on the subject or business including bankruptcies, tax liens and judgments. Asset information can be used in a variety of situations and litigation, including recovering payments for unfulfilled promises and contracts such as the HGTH example. Also when trying to collect on a debt, recovering a judgment or purchasing a business. They are also useful in alimony or child support cases.

Private investigators can help provide valuable information in such cases

Examples of assets include, but are not limited to:

  • Cash in bank accounts, money markets, or offshore accounts
  • Personal or business property
  • Residential and commercial real estate
  • Investments
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Intellectual property including patents and trademarks
Ongoing litigation leaves customers in limbo for now

In an October 24th video posted on Youtube, Sowash says despite the bankruptcy filing and criminal investigation he’s still building tiny homes. In the video Sowash says, “don’t believe everything you see and hear in the media, because we’re building and delivering tiny houses every day.”  It’s not clear where he’s building them since he was evicted from his Englewood, Colorado warehouse earlier this month.  He left owing $31,270 in unpaid rent, according to BusinessDen/The Denver Post and faces at least two lawsuits, one in federal court and another in Arapahoe County. The criminal investigation also continues. According to the article in BusinessDen, Holy Ground owes 180 customers in 36 states a total of $5.7 million. The company also owes four lenders $765,000, while listing only $245K in assets according to its bankruptcy filing.

Hopefully the customers who trusted Sowash and Holy Ground Tiny Homes will eventually be able to recoup their losses. For a reasonable cost, private investigators can help protect your investments and avoid these kinds of situations by providing background and asset checks before you spend your hard-earned money.  As the saying goes, “trust but verify.”

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Nancy Kristof
Nancy Kristof

Nancy is a writer, editor and communications professional nearly 30 years of experience. Originally from the east coast, she's lived in Colorado since 2004 and owns her own communications consulting business and supports Ross Investigators as an information gatherer, blogger and editor.

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