According to IndyStar, former co-host of Fox and Friends Clayton Morris portrays himself as a real estate investment expert who helps others achieve financial freedom with his company, Morris Invest. Yet, Morris has left a trail of unsatisfied investors in his wake, as tenants lived in terrible conditions in dilapidated homes.
Morris, who lives in a $1.45 million home in New Jersey, gives his tenants boarded up homes, empty lots, and buildings with health violations. He is now the target of at least five lawsuits from out-of-state investors who claim that they were defrauded by him. Investors say they were sold rental properties with a promise to rehab and rent them. Unfortunately, many investors said the houses were never rehabbed or rented and others said that the houses were either vacant or uninhabitable.
Morris’s attorney, David Hensel, gave an email statement which blamed Morris’s business partner, Oceanpointe, for the issues.
“Clayton Morris and Morris Invest identify with the many investors who lost money through home-renovation, property-management, and other failures by Oceanpointe and its various corporate entities and employees," Hensel said in the emailed statement. "Clayton Morris and his family purchased properties and were similarly damaged by Oceanpointe’s misconduct. The Morris family and Morris Invest have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Clayton and Morris Invest deny all allegations of wrongdoing. Because these matters are currently being litigated, Clayton and Morris Invest are unable to make any further statement and look forward to a swift and just resolution for all.”
Oceanpointe is operated by Bert Whalen who has worked as an agent, property manager, and investor, since the mid-1990s. His real estate license was revoked over a year ago.
Whalen’s attorney, John Tompkins, said Whalen didn’t do anything wrong and met all of his contract requirements.
Buyers believed they were buying from Morris. Investors say they were trusting of Morris because of his public profile on Fox. One buyer paid $52,500 only to discover that the house was destroyed by a fire a few days before he bought it. Other investors paid over $60,000 for vacant lots where Morris said he would construct new homes. Instead, they were left with holes in the grounds or empty lots.
Investors say that they suspect they were a part of a Ponzi scheme. They received monthly checks and copies of leases, but then discovered that their homes were vacant for months.
Real estate experts say that the impact on the city will be huge. The issue will plague city officials and neighborhoods for years.
“You’re going to have all these properties that are just going to get dumped back to the city and to the county,” said Berkeshire, one of the attorneys representing investors. “Because these investors, who already lost millions of dollars, are just going to walk away.”