Landlords’ Barometer – #75: A property investment scandal that needs exposing

Welcome to a special edition of my Landlords Barometer which I am dedicating to a very important issue and also to the memory of Danny Butcher.

It was with deep sadness that we learned recently that a “pupil” of a high profile property investment trainer had taken his own life. Danny Butcher had only been married for three months and borrowed £18,000 to start his property investment journey with a trainer who made a lot of promises – but apparently did not fulfil on them.

Although Danny begged for extra support and then a refund, this was also refused.

Sadly, on Saturday, October 26, Danny made the decision to take his own life.

Property Tribes received the following statement from his widow, Charlotte: “Danny and I talked so much that week and I said we would find a way through it, we would chip away at the debt and look at our position again in a year.

”We made a plan as to how we would realistically do that and still on Saturday night he made the decision to do what he did. You can’t take a decision like that back.

“If we can just stop one person in the the same situation from doing what Dan did after reading his story and make him realise there is always another option, then he won’t have died in vain.”

There is a Facebook group dedicated to this topic.

This tragic event brings into sharp focus the need to regulate the “wealth creation” industry.

For ten years now, Property Tribes and its community have been doing whatever we can to create awareness of the issues surrounding what we call the “wealth creation” industry, as well as producing due diligence resources and knowledge around this part of the sector.

However, sadly it appears that it is not enough.

Given all the significant financial losses up to and including the recent tragic loss of life that can be directly attributed to people getting involved in the “wealth creation” sector, there has to be something more that can be done to STOP this from happening again.

Let us be clear – Property Tribes supports authentic education and there is always a place for this and we stand behind it and those companies who provide it.

But selling what amounts to a ticket to see a unicorn to vulnerable people of limited financial means is totally deplorable behaviour.

These “pupils” are getting into debt to undertake expensive education and mentoring with what appears to be a distinct lack of support and duty of care by the trainers or mentors.

These “pupils”  are then left high and dry and even shut out from the mentor’s network if they dare to seek support or complain and, according to his family, this is what had a direct impact on Danny taking his own life.

Danny not only lost money that he could ill afford to spend (£18,000 was borrowed on credit cars and loans) with nothing to show for it, he also lost his HOPE for a better future for his new wife and family.

This sector does not just need some form of kite mark. It needs robust regulation and a route to redress if things go wrong or services are not delivered upon.

To get the ball rolling, my husband Nick spoke to our long time friend Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action about recent events and what we, as a caring and responsible part of the sector, can do to ensure that we limit the exposure and risk of newcomers getting involved in what can only be described as disgraceful business practices and ethics.

These newbies can end up spending what amounts to the deposit on a property for “advice, education, and mentoring” that is not delivered upon and/or does not work in the current market conditions.

What are the EYE community’s thoughts on this important issue?


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  1. smile please

    Very sad story. Well done Vanessa in highlighting this. I see it all time and again people being sold a dream and then being left high and dry. Even certain franchises can be to blame for this.

    These gurus, trainers and companies have a duty of care to investors / ‘students’

    Hopefully people will see this story and your warnings and think twice in future.

    My thoughts are with Danny’s family, so sad he fealt he had no other choice.

    1. Vanessa Warwick

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a supportive comment.

      A JustGiving page has been set up by friends of Danny to pay for his debts and funeral costs:

  2. RealAgent

    Just a few weeks ago I was in a hotel reception and saw banners for a “property investment” forum. I was sat in the lounge and a group came out for a coffee break and overhearing conversations I was struck by how ill informed many of these potential investors were.

    This story highlights just how people can be manipulated with promises to change their lives and it’s desperately tragic, what to do about it is the question however.

    One answer could be to set up a free to use property investment advisory organisation. I am sure that a number of us with many years in the property business would be happy to donate our time to such an organisation. Like many of you I already do it for friends and family!

    Anyway if anyone wants to run with that idea I’m certainly prepared to be involved.

  3. AgencyInsider

    Human capacity to fall prey to envy and greed is limitless – and so is the supply of spivs who will peddle to them the dream of easy riches.

    Every school should teach every child that high reward is matched by high risk and that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.



  4. Eyereaderturnedposter12

    Very sad indeed…
    “Suicide is a permanent solution, to temporary problems…”
    Social media is awash with these ‘snake oil’ salesman, creating property based content using rented Ferraris, flashing Rolexes, sitting in grounded private jets and rented properties explaining how, with little effort, they’ve grown a £1million portfolio inside a year (not noting that if they are, that are mortgaged up to the eyeballs)…
    It should also not escape any reader’s/interested parties’ attention that these types of con men/women (particularly property related) have increased considerably in the last 18 months (in line with the market taking a dip)…
    .If these “gurus” were worth their salt, they’d be doing what they’re talking about doing, as this would be far more profitable than talking about something they aren’t doing!  
    I suspect that part of the problem is one of a lack of understanding with the younger generations that ‘get rich quick schemes’ rarely have any merit (beyond lining the pockets of those seeking to profiteer from peddling an easy seeming dream).  
    These schemes/seminars/advertisements  should be illegal..

    1. Vanessa Warwick

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and completely agree with you.

  5. Woodentop

    This is a scam that is not new, it used to be peddled through books of “How to become ….” and that was as far it went. Today we see so many so called guru’s, never heard of 99% of them and the other 1% I wouldn’t trust until they prove they are successful, peddling their wears on the internet and hooking in on that desire many people want, the golden chalice to earning a lot of money, with little effort and now. We do live in a society of wanting more. Many of these so called gurus are only peddling old information that has been around since the beginning of time, with a twist to make it sounds like they are good. The subject “con” often comes up and very true for some and my comment is this ….  
    “if it is that good, why are these self proclaimed gurus needing to rope others into their hair brained idea?”  
    What they really mean is they want your investment for themselves, by telling you what you want to hear.

    1. Vanessa Warwick

      Thank you for leaving a comment.  You nailed it!

  6. Vanessa Warwick

    For clarity, Property Tribes does not intend to be involved in any kind of regulation – the forum already provides a platform for community self-regulation (via substantiated commentary) and other due diligence resources and it is not the forum’s remit to regulate anything.What we WILL do is gather ideas of what form that regulation/redress should take.

  7. Estate Agent W1

    Very sad story to hear. I have to agree with Woodentop. One thing I notice when I look into these so called Guru’s is they have been directors of many failed companies or their current companies are barely making a profit. As previously mentioned they wrap up old ideas in flowery paper and mainly they are just reinventing the wheel. Companies House is easy to access via the internet, why no one does background checks before they part with their money I will never understand.  I know of one Guru who seems to be lauded by other so called Guru’s in this industry and whilst they are very good at getting their message across via social media the companies that they own struggle to make any decent monies…if your ideas are so good why are you not making huge profits!!!!

    There are a small handful of good if not great trainers ( I have met only 4 in my 36 years in this industry), the rest are praying on peoples insecurity and lack of knowledge, Unfortunately this type of thing has been going on for centuries.

  8. Vanessa Warwick

    Another disturbing story associated with the same trainer has just appeared on facebook:

    1. mattr83

      “MY CAR had been broken into it and my Canada goose coat along with my Mac and boxers socks had been stolen.”   Most will know but for those who don’t, that’s an £800 coat  
      But his money difficulties were somebody else’s fault.
      I really think the issue here is how quick and easy finance is to secure. That’s the root of the problem.
      Everytime I have been conned, I blame myself not the con man. That isn’t to say they don’t exist

  9. new life

    This story leaves me cold these so called experts giving false hope to people for a price has got to stop these people often peddle there own developments with unrealistic returns with scant regard of the conciquences to those who fall for the sales patter if these schemes were that good why share ?, I know the reputation of agents isnt always good, but most professional agents love to talk about property and will in the most part give good honest advice to anyone who askes and all for free, after 30 years in the industry i have been happy to inpart some of my knowledge to potential investors on what to buy where to buy but also what not to buy or where not to buy,this has stood me well over the years and has earned me many clients that have turned into friends , landlords and vendors , i sometimes whish i’d listened to my own advice.

    My Heart goes out to Dannys family and sincerely hope that the message helps prevent this from happening again..


    RIP young man

  10. mattr83

    A key here for me is also, how was someone able to borrow £18,000 without means to repay.

    What specific advice was given to the individual which caused him to lose money?



    1. Vanessa Warwick

      Danny took out credit cards and loans to borrow the fees for the training courses.

      He was told he would make that money back by the first deal.  However, despite trying everything, he never managed to do a property deal, so he asked – and then begged – for a refund.  The trainer in question refused and then removed him from all the support groups as he had dared to complain in them.

      He should never have been encouraged to get into property in the first place, as he did not have any other funds.

      1. mattr83

        It’s very upsetting, finance is too easy to get to. What specific advice was he given that was wrong? You say he tried everything, what did he try? Think we need some facts to consider.

        1. Vanessa Warwick

          I suggest you search on the facebook group that I linked to in the article.

          A few days before he died, Danny wrote up his story of how the trainer failed him.  This was published on the group.

          The admins of that group were trying to assist him and find ways to help him recoup his money, so they had a lot of evidence from him including screenshots of emails and private messages between him and the trainer.  It is all documented on there.

          1. mattr83

            Sorry, not a user of facebook…

            I think a professional article would include at least some “facts”. No-one sensible would comment without these

            Frankly surprised Property Eye let this go up

            1. Vanessa Warwick

              What facts do you require?

              That someone actually killed themselves?  That the family say that this issue contributed to it?  That the poor guy paid £18K for training?

              As stated, this was all documented by the individual himself.  I cannot post links.

              Major media have taken this story up and cleared it with their legal departments, and I don’t think they would do that if there was no substance to the story.

              1. mattr83

                The facts I require (ignoring your ridiculous comment about “evidence of suicide”):

                What specific advice was he given that would lead to a material loss?

                You make erroneous comments such as, “he tried everything”… such as?

                Have others followed the same advice more successfully?

                Believe it or not, I am hugely sympathetic to the issue, I am also on your side that if indeed he was sold misleading information then these people need to be punished but without any facts around specifically what he was advised it’s hard to get behind.



                1. Vanessa Warwick

                  I think it is clear that someone who had to put the training on loans and credit cards was not a suitable candidate to be encouraged into property in the first place.

                  How would he qualify for BTL finance if he couldn’t even afford the training and where would his deposit come from?

                  I don’t think it could be any clearer that this young man was mis-sold – then when he complained he was barred from the support groups he had PAID to be part of, and also refused a refund, despite telling the company that he was in a worse financial position than when he started the training.

                  1. mattr83

                    Oh I see… was the trainer aware that the client was paying with borrowed money?

                    1. Vanessa Warwick

                      They don’t check and they don’t care.

                      However, when Danny went back to them and told them about his situation and that he was struggling with debt, they just ignored him and when he complained on the facebook support groups, they blocked him from those groups, even though part of what he paid for was to be in those support groups.


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