Financial Freedom Anyone?
In February 2018 we decided that we’d go to see a property trainer who was offering a free ‘crash course’ as an introduction to property investment. We’d read Samuel Leeds’ book and it invited us to check him out so he could show us how easy if was to become ‘Financially Free’. 😉
By that point we’d already bought a couple of houses ourselves and had gone through the process. We knew it wasn’t simple, but we knew what it was about. We’d bought those houses by conventional Buy To Let (BTL) means and I had also rented out my old house as a way to move to a swankier house in Durham City. This was with Consent to Let. I want to make clear, those house purchases had nothing to do with Samuel Leeds ‘teachings’.
We realised at the time (2017/2018) that we needed to know more and BTL was about as far as we’d stretched it. There was clearly much more out there and to get the full range of strategies to allow us to go into other areas of property, we needed more nouse. What better way than to get a couple of days of free training and a trip to Madchester? Who is and who isn’t, arr kid?
Two Days of Snake Oil
I’ve already covered the training we got that day in detail in a old post on this blog. It was a couple of days we spent with a couple of hundred of other people who were keen to learn more too. I’d never been to one of these sessions, but I was gobsmacked how it was delivered.
I wrote in the original post at the time about how awkward I was at the training session. I know it was designed that way, but I didn’t really find it comfortable. I felt it was too happy clappy in it’s delivery. I’d seen this type of thing on the GOD channel on Sky and I wondered why it was delivered that way. Now, all this time later, I understand. It was delivered that way to indoctrinate us, to soften us up.
We did however sit through all the shit selling pressure and ended up buying a further course (the DFE) to supplement the Crash Course. Looking back now, I wish we hadn’t, but the delivery and methods in the crash course did their job and sucked us in. We went on the 2nd course in May 2018. It cost us about 2 and a half grand. At the time we thought it was worth it. Now we feel we were conned. However, as a paid customer, I will comment about it and that is what I ended up doing – a review for my website here. I’m not ashamed to say I’m now red-faced we got doused in his snake oil.
After those two training sessions, we started taking in the free offerings of some other prominent property trainers. We tended to learn about these from Facebook and LinkedIn. We also found that all of the free ‘tasting’ courses had the same type of content and desperate upsells. The delivery was different in it’s style, but they all resulted in an upsell of further paid courses. None of the upsells were as aggressive as those Samuel Leeds training sessions though. We learned to ignore the upsells, even being blunt and rude on a couple of occasions to people doing the selling, but they got the message. No thanks!
We then took stock of what we’d learned and went into a spell where we planned which plan we were going to use going forward. We decided to stick with our own simple BTL system as it was working well for us. The other things we investigated like LOA (Lease Option Agreements) led us to properties we wouldn’t have touched with a bargepole! Dead end houses in crappy neighbourhoods with no hope of capital appreciation. No thanks, we’ll not be doing any business there. Don’t want to be a slum landlord. Samuel pushes LOAs a lot. Say no more. 😏
The portfolio has grown, but not due to Samuel Leeds
Zoom forward to the middle of 2019 and we had grown our little portfolio to 5 houses. We always found it easy to find houses, but getting the right ones in the right places was a little trickier. We were only looking to buy on our own patch. We believe that local knowledge is far more valuable than anything else when looking for rentals. Samuel Leeds however advised us to invest outside of our own area. WTF? Apparently he preferred the out of sight, out of mind approach. We rightly ignored him.
It was the middle of the year and we had made a lot of friends on social media in the property area. I’d also started to branch out into affiliate marketing because I didn’t like having all my eggs in one basket and wanted a second stream of income. As a result, I’ve gone careering down this route whilst my partner continues more with the property side of things.
The worm was starting to turn
Through all of the social media links, we heard there were stories of unhappy people coming through. We heard of people being thrown out of courses they’d paid for. Some had paid a lot of money for their training, five-figure sums in some cases. A lot more than we’d paid. There was trouble afoot. It seemed like things had changed for the worse. The worm was turning.
Property trainers were becoming much more visible on YouTube. The so called ‘Furus’. It obviously looked to be a great way to promote their training and get people into their sales funnel. We saw Samuel popping up much more regularly. But at the same time, those people who had a bad experience were also starting to make YouTube videos, telling their own stories about how the training they had paid for hadn’t been delivered. They felt they’d been ripped off. Things weren’t right.
Danny Butcher – poorly treated, no duty of care
In late October 2019 we learned of a poor guy (Danny Butcher) who had gotten into a lot of debt to take a training course. He’d had problems with his training and when he asked for a refund he was talked out of it by the CEO (Russell Leeds). He then tried for several more months before realising it just wasn’t working for him. His own diary account showed him being fobbed off repeatedly by the training company. Eventually, despairing of the debt he’d taken on, he took his own life. He was part of Samuel Leeds’ Property Academy at the time.
Samuel quickly released his own video in response (now deleted by him), telling of his shock and his version of events, which included stating that Danny Butcher wasn’t denied a refund. Danny’s family beg to differ, and his diary seemed to tell a totally different story.
Here’s an audit trail of Danny’s request for a refund, from his own phone records
This total tragedy sent shock waves through the property training industry and suddenly people became very interested in the controversial methods being used to lure people into parting with their money for ‘training’. These sums were considerable. The BBCs Inside Out program did an undercover expose of the tactics used and a TV broadcast ensued. Joe Lycett did a program and Dragons Den’s own Shaf Rasul weighed in as well, taking on the Furus.
The Truth About Samuel Leeds Facebook Group
I started receiving messages here on the blog from those who knew Danny Butcher personally. A Facebook group had started up to try to get the industry regulated, and to warn others of the dangers of unlicenced property trainers. They asked for my help, as my Samuel Leeds reviews on this blog were ranking well in Google. I also started to feel very guilty that I might now be inadvertently promoting a product that had perhaps led in part to a guy’s death. I was also feeling guilty about being drawn into the snake oil funnel.
Over the latter part of the year, I became quite involved in the Facebook group (The Truth about Samuel Leeds and those using similar methods) as I was quite horrified with some of the details I was hearing. More things started to come to light about what was happening. A large group of people were now asking for their money back for training they claimed they hadn’t received and they had clubbed together with the hope of starting a legal Class Action.
I had become a supporter of the group and what they were trying to achieve.
I’d heard that early in 2020, the group’s creator Andrew Burgess had received legal threats from solicitors representing Samuel Leeds. They were demanding he remove the Facebook group, as well as other things. They didn’t like what was being said. Andrew strongly resisted the legal threats and carried on. He’d done nothing wrong.
Even though the group was aggressive in it’s nature, I was impressed the way the admins were running the group. Freedom of speech was allowed and more people were joining every day. The word was getting out about the training problems and people affected, as well as pushing for the industry to be regulated. To date, there are around 4,000 members.
Property Trainers – Do They Practice What They Preach?
One thing that was being raised time and time again were the questions, do the trainers really make their money from property as they say, and truly pass on their knowledge, or are they just making vast sums of money purely by running extortionate training courses? In short, are they just bullshitting about their non-existent portfolios and wealth to draw unsuspecting people into their sales funnel?
One thing that became immediately apparent was that the Furus pushed back strongly. They obviously had a nice little (no BIG) income in place, with associated house/car lifestyle. They defended it vigorously, as we would expect. Meanwhile, momentum was growing to try to get the Property Training Sector regulated. Spats broke out between Furus and their critics.
Covid-19 kills Property Training Sessions
Then in March 2020, Covid-19 struck. Property training via seminars and public events simply stopped along with the rest of normal life. We were all locked down for 3 months! Meanwhile, the revelations about the Furus continued and we heard about more and more people trying to get their money back from Samuel Leeds and other trainers. A lot of the people had actually clubbed together in a legal action to try to approach it that way.
The Truth about Samuel Leeds Facebook group started to report these details, keeping everyone in the loop about the growing dis-satisfaction with the training. There were also a couple of brilliant videos released by Georgie (aka Munecat) on YouTube, taking apart the methodology and claims made by Samuel Leeds. Watch them now, you’ll be amazed.
Samuel makes legal threats
Around this time, late July/early August, I received two legal letters from Ellisons Solicitors, representing Mr Samuel Leeds, demanding I take down my two blog reviews, Samuel Leeds Property Crash Course Review and Samuel Leeds Deal Finding Extravaganza Review, as well as introducing a new wild allegation, that of being someone called ‘Bell Snow’ who had posted on the Truth about Samuel Leeds Facebook Group. ‘Bell Snow’ seemed to have inside information about the Samuel Leeds operation.
I don’t know who the hell ‘Bell Snow’ is. However Samuel Leeds thinks it is me (what a tit), and based his legal letter on this, claiming that because I didn’t deny it, then it must be true. What?????
Utter Hogwash Mr Leeds!
I sent rebuttal letters back to Ellisons after taking legal advice. My solicitors told me there were no grounds for what Samuel Leeds claimed. The original reviews were made nearly two and a half years ago and were my opinion of his two training courses, the second of which we had actually paid him for. There is no truth in his claim that I had posted messages under the Bell Snow name. None. He is shooting from the hip and hitting nothing.
Several other members of the Truth About Samuel Leeds Facebook group have also received threatening legal letters from Ellisons for daring to speak out about him and the way he runs his operations.
It takes a Chicken to Know One!
Into the early Autumn and we continue to target regulation of the property training sector. Andrew Burgess has offered to do an interview with Mr Leeds, but Samuel only wants a face-to-face meeting, something which Andrew feels is totally irresponsible and dangerous during the current pandemic we are enduring at the moment. There is an open offer to meet on a Zoom call, but Mr Leeds has refused. Samuel thinks Andrew is chicken, but it’s really Samuel who has a big yellow streak up his spine.
At the same time, the Butcher family have stepped up their requests for answers from Samuel Leeds. As I understand it, they have been completely ignored by Samuel after Danny’s death. There have been multiple requests to meet and thrash out how Danny was treated that led to tragedy. All have been ignored. Here’s Danny’s dad, Alan Butcher:
All the while during pandemic lockdown, Samuel has continued producing his snake oil YouTube videos, trying to keep his business going. They are getting increasing desperate as it’s apparent that the lack of training income is crippling his plans. This is a business that Samuel continues to claim he makes no money from. Well, i’m sure he’s right about that at this time. He claims all his income is from his own property investments, whereas in a video with Grant Cardone last year he claimed his training business was raking in millions. So, he being liberal with the truth somewhere isn’t he?
Desperately trying to keep the lifestyle going
His vanity project at Ribbesford Hall (not a castle) has ground to a halt because he’s apparently run out of money. The rumour is that contractor bills haven’t been paid. He continues to live in his vast rented property in Beaconsfield, with financed Range Rover and obscene hot tub, and is fighting hard to keep them. I’m not sure how long he can keep up this lifestyle when training income has obviously dropped through the floor. At the time of writing, Samuel Leeds Ltd now also has multiple CCJs against it and several of his other companies are marked for compulsory strike off by Companies House. Great management there Samuel! 😉
The Covid-19 pandemic has hit a lot of people hard, but one industry that I’m not sorry is suffering is the predatory property training industry. It’s clipped their wings and stopped the mass meetings where people are brainwashed into parting with vast sums of money to fund the Furu’s own lifestyles. ‘Other people’s money’ is their tagline and mantra.
It’s the Perfect Storm. I hope it sinks the lot of them.