A well-known Jacksonville entrepreneur has been accused of fraud which has prompted her investors to file lawsuits with claims of bad business practices.
Janay White is the CEO of eight different companies in Jacksonville including the J White Business Center which offers credit repair services and credit education courses to customers.
The Florida Attorney General’s office confirmed that it has received multiple fraud complaints against some of White’s businesses.
The News4JAX I-TEAM spoke with three different people who have invested a total of $100,000 in various ventures.
“It started off with a business relationship and then I did a mentorship program and like I said, she has a very infectious personality,” said Rayvon Griffin.
Griffin met White in 2021 after enrolling in her business credit program.
“So, we went to each other’s birthday parties. She met my family, like it was a very co-mingle relationship. So, it was really crazy how everything played out,” Griffin said.
Griffin said she trusted White.
“I’m telling you, if you ever have a conversation with her, it makes she makes you feel like family,” Griffin said.
Griffin said White broke her trust shortly after she gave her $10,000 as a silent investor.
“So over three programs with her, I spent over $22,000. And the mentorship program itself, over $10,000. And then on top of the legal fees, that’s over $7,000 and counting,” Griffin said. “With the mentorship program we were supposed to get a property, and this was a total baby step walk-through as if we were first-time flippers.”
The contract promised investors the company would locate and purchase a property, renovate and sell it. Griffin said as the investor, she expected to get 70% of the profits at the time of sale.
But there was one small problem: Griffin said she never got an investment property. And those she did see concerned her.
“A lot of the properties that we end up seeing were not first-time flipper friendly. They were completely dilapidated from termite infections, having issues with galvanized pipe, roofing situations, like permit pulling type of things,” she said.
Nine months later she said she knew she had to do something.
“I realized all of the things that we agreed to in our initial contract were not going to be able to be done,” she said.
Griffin then hired Jacksonville attorney Chris Dempsey.
“This is an intentional scheme to defraud, or this is an overcommitting or overzealous representation of capacity by Janay White and her multiple enterprises,” Dempsey told the I-TEAM.
Dempsey said dozens of others have lost their money as well.
“It’s a mess. I’ve never seen anything like it, and given the gravity of the financial losses by individuals who are members of our community who are just hardworking, conscientious small business owners, proprietors that are trying to grow their wealth and invest in our community, it shocks the conscious,” Dempsey said.
Generally, courts require at least 25 plaintiffs before considering a case for class-action status, but Dempsey said the potential is there with two possible schemes at work: A real estate mentorship program and an Airbnb investment program.
Buddy Wilson and Andre Romano said they also invested money into what was advertised as a short-term investment opportunity. Contracts show they paid a one-time administrative and set up fee of $7,000 to White for a turnkey Airbnb property. Monthly rent and other fees would be deducted from their profits.
Romano and Wilson said they were promised profits of $1,000 or more each month for each Airbnb they invested in.
Wilson said he invested in eight units totaling $56,000 hoping he would double his money. Romano invested $22,000.
“I was able to secure about three properties. However, none of the properties were actually existent in my opinion, because like I would try to book the properties myself to get my family from Hawaii in those properties as we had like a little wedding anniversary going on and none of those properties were even available,” Romano said.
Romano and Wilson both said they received monthly profit and loss statement from their short-term investment properties and started noticing red flags immediately because the numbers weren’t adding up.
“It looked like they were copy and pasting all these documents, all of these profit and loss statements because I had two profit and loss statements that were just identical as if it was copy and pasted,” Romano said.
“After the first month, whenever I got the profit-loss statement, I knew something was wrong,” said Wilson. “Them not reaching out about payment or profit loss statements or any kind of potential issues definitely showed me that they were not paying attention or care, were careless about the situation.”
Wilson recently started a Facebook group to connect with other victims. In three days, the group gained 6,000 members. Fifty people claimed they also invested with J White and saw little to no profits.
Members are also comparing profit and loss statements in the group and realizing they were promised the same Airbnb properties and have identical monthly statements.
“I think they took the money and could not care less about the information that I was receiving and what type of business that they were doing,” said Wilson. “Those profit-losses, it looks like you might have like a couple hundred dollars here, a couple hundred dollars there.”
“Were you seeing any money at all?” News4JAX asked.
“Majority of the time, between the deficit of some units, it would cancel out any profit that I would make,” he said.
All three investors have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau and Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office.
White denies the claims against her businesses.
She sent a written statement that reads in part: “The allegations are unfounded and simply not true. In ALL business ventures, there is a substantial risk of profit and loss with no guarantees. Unfortunately, as many are seeing, the travel and short-term rental market has taken a hit economically, and so have many short-term rentals.”
Dempsey said he’s in contact with more investors every day who have similar stories. He plans to take Griffin’s case to trial.
“I haven’t seen a single case despite Janay’s representations on her Facebook group that she created in connection with her mentorship group that anybody has realized their investments or any profits there from,” he said. “To have somebody sign a contract it looks they couldn’t even carry out in the first place is beyond disingenuous, it’s borderline criminal.”
If you have a complaint against Janay White, you can file a report with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office by calling the non-emergency line: 904-630-0500.
White is connected to a total of eight companies including:
J White Business CenterJ White EnterprisesLuigi’s Concrete and MoreJ White Marketing Inc.J White Construction Inc.J White Properties and MoreJ White InstituteFree Game By J White