Kevin Young’s Property Club is Cleared after ABC Journalist, Editor & Producer Exposed for Breaches in Journalistic Ethics.
A private investigator has exposed ABC 7.30 Report in grave breaches of journalistic ethics. In a fallacious story, ABC’s deliberate omission of relevant facts are not only defamatory, they also appear to have acted with malice and premeditated intent to cause harm to innocent people with clean hands.
This investigation is ongoing. If you have evidence or information to help in this case, or other ABC fake-news publications, contact the lead investigator:
Update 1: The Couple Interviewed by ABC Confirm Inaccuracy of the Story
19 December, 2014
The plaintiffs Tony McNally and Marie Mathews should be commended for taking a stand for the truth when they filed an admission with the NSW Supreme Court, explicitly denying the ABC’s allegations against the Property Club’s team as follows:
To the extent that, in any media interviews, we have referred to anyone falsifying, doctoring or fudging documents, these allegations were not intended to be made against The Investors Club, The Property Club or Gary Smith. To the extent that these allegations may have been understood to have been made against The Investors Club, The Property Club or Gary Smith, this was an error. At no time have we brought a case against any of these persons on this basis, or intentionally made such allegations against them.
We acknowledge that, despite the allegations made by us in the media and in the legal proceedings, we were at no time misled or deceived by the conduct of The Investors Club, The Property Club or Gary Smith.”
17 July 2015
The final vindication for Property Club against Amy Bainbridge’s unfounded allegations, came when the New South Wales Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit. Click on the image to the right to read the dismissal.
Update 3: ABC issues inconspicuous corrections at the bottom of the article:
17 July 2015
When presented with undeniable evidence of breaches in journalistic ethics, the ABC agreed to publish the following post-ed notices:
“Editor’s note December 19, 2014: In Tony McNally’s and Marie Mathews’ litigation over this investment scheme, the allegation of falsifying documents is made against the mortgage broker AND NOT against Kevin Young or The Investors Club.”
“Editor’s note: In June 2015: Tony McNally and Marie Mathews settled the legal case referred to in this report and judgment was entered in favour of The Investors Club Ltd and the mortgage broker.”
Breach in MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics
These inconspicuous footnotes at the very bottom of the 2,100-word article further evidence of the ABCs duplicity and untrustworthiness with the truth. Furthermore, it is in clear breach of Section 12 of the Australian MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics which states:
“12. Do your utmost to achieve fair correction of errors.”
This type of correction, when hidden in the footnotes of a very long article, could be compared to a three-year-old boy being forced to say “I’m sorry” for setting his sisters hair on fire. But the apology is accompanied a scowl, the crossing of arms, stomping of feet, and turning his back. Disingenuous indeed…
How This Exposé Works:
The original words of Amy Bainbridge are displayed in black, italic text below.
This investigator’s responses to Amy’s fallacious statements are indented, appearing in this format and colour, preceded by the word “RESPONSE“.
This is NOT an investigation of Kevin Young, or the Property Club. This is an investigation into the journalistic ethics of Journalist Amy Bainbridge, and her employer, the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
—- BEGIN ORIGINAL ARTICLE——
“The Investors Club, renamed as Property Club, sued by couple claiming they were misled into taking out $1 million in loans”
7.30 By consumer affairs reporter Amy Bainbridge
Published August 12, 2014 17:11:01 & Updated 4 Sep 2015, 5:22pm
RESPONSE: Classification of ABC Headline Lies: “False Cause” and “Conspicuous Omission Of Facts“
In this inflammatory headline, Amy Bainbridge and her editors deceive readers by compounding two lies, the first being “False Cause”, where she leads you to believe that a real or perceived relationship between things means that one is the cause of the other. Her second lie comes in the form of a “Conspicuous omission of facts”. By using this headline, there is no turning back for the ABC; the tone has been set, they have crossed a line and intentions have been made clear.
ABC’s ARGUMENT: In the ordinary reading of this inflammatory headline, readers will conclude that the Investors Club/Property Club (Hereinafter called “Property Club”), engaged in unethical business practices to mislead a couple into borrowing One Million Dollars, and was being sued for their wrongdoing.
ABC’s PROBLEM: Property Club (“PC”) is merely an educator and facilitator. PC offers free real estate investment training for everyday people. Students are invited to access PC’s comprehensive list of investment properties, offered by various third-party developers, vendors and real estate agents to find a property that suits them. When a club member finds a property to purchase, the club member then chooses, at their sole discretion, a finance broker to help secure the property. Property Club DOES NOT offer finance and Property Club DOES NOT prepare contracts. Apart from helping a member find suitable properties, all the finance, purchase contracts and settlements are affected by third parties. PC does not see or need to see any of this paperwork.
Property Club had nothing to do with the Plaintiff’s loans; the organisation that helped the Plaintiffs with their finance applications was the now defunct “Greenspan Financial Service Pty Ltd.” However, Greenspan was an unknown, mum & dad small business that was not newsworthy. Although Investors Club was originally named in the lawsuit as a co-defendant with Greenspan Financial Service, ABC was privy to the entire court filing and is without excuse as they had full knowledge about who the the Plaintiff’s blamed for the alleged wrongdoing.
ABC’s MOTIVE: It is this investigator’s opinion, based on the evidence at hand, and after watching Amy Bainbridge’s entire, uncut video interview of Property Club founder Kevin Young, that the story was simply not news-worthy without ample use of “Journalistic Licence”. This is a nice way to say “Deception”. It seems that maliciously dragging “One of Queensland’s richest men” into the fray, was a temptation this journalist could not resist.
SUMMARY: Although the “facts” in Amy Bainbridge’s headline are accurate, the imputations and conclusions drawn in the ordinary reading of the words, are not accurate. In-fact, they are a shameful example of Amy Bainbridge’s intellectual dishonesty. It would have been more appropriate to display the headline as:
“Investors Club wrongly sued by a couple claiming they were misled by third-party Greenspan Financial Service, into taking out $1 million in loans”
Alas, this just wouldn’t sell newspapers, so it seems misrepresented facts were deliberately published by ABC as a business decision; at the expense of the Property Club and the 300 employees who have lost their jobs.
“A New South Wales couple is suing an investment club run by one of Queensland’s richest men, claiming they were misled and deceived into taking out more than $1 million in loans to be part of a property scheme.”
RESPONSE: Classification of ABC Lies: “Appeal to Emotion”.
Here, the ABC attempts to manipulate an emotional response from the readers in place of a valid or compelling argument. This is a particularly pernicious type of deception that takes advantage of readers who may have lower levels of education and critical thinking skills. In my opinion, it is a type of intellectual discrimination.
ABC’s Argument: Kevin Young is one of Queensland’s Richest Men”. Here, Bainbridge is taking advantage of the Australian cultural propensity to dislike high achievers, otherwise known as “tall poppy syndrome”. Mr Young’s finances have no bearing on the case; it is simply an appeal to emotion to stimulate shallow thinking, stereotype bias, and gossip.
ABC’s Problem: As mentioned earlier, neither Kevin Young or his organisation played no part in the finance applications for the properties for which the plaintiff couple committed themselves.
The case, lodged in the NSW Supreme Court, makes explosive allegations about the scheme that has sold thousands of houses and units around the country.
RESPONSE: Classification of ABC Lies: “Conspicuous Omission Of Facts”
The NSW Supreme Court dismissed this case in 2015. The ABC refused to update the story beyond a small footnote at the very end of the article.
Lawyers representing Tony McNally and Marie Mathews allege that a mortgage broker involved in the scheme secured loans using falsified documents.
It is also alleged the advice given to them about the properties they purchased was misleading and inappropriate.
Mr McNally and Ms Mathews live on the NSW Central Coast and were enticed into deals during local seminars.
They were sold four properties and are suing The Investors Club, one of its local branch managers as well as a mortgage broker involved in the scheme.
RESPONSE: Classification of ABC’s Lies: “Guilt by Association”.
The association fallacy, also known as guilt by association, is a logical fallacy that occurs when a person/belief is supported or attacked because of its relation to some other person/belief.
ABC’s Argument: The ABC tries to impute financial fraud on the “The Property Club”.
ABC’s Problem: The Property Club was not involved in any way with any finance applications. An independent third party named Greenspan Financial Service Pty Ltd was the only party accused of the falsification, even so, Greenspan was also vindicated by the NSW Court dismissal.The ABC’s deliberate omission of this information deceitfully leads readers to believe that the Property Club was involved in alleged fraud.
Their lawyers say the club breached a duty of care that it owed to Mr McNally and Ms Mathews.
RESPONSE: Classification of Deception: “Burden of Proof”
A burden of proof fallacy lies with someone who is making a claim without evidence or valid argument and expects someone else to disprove it.
ABC’s Argument: ABC’s invokes the expertise of the plaintiff’s lawyer, claiming that Property Club is in breach of the ancient legal doctrine of “Duty of Care”.
ABC’s Problem: This single sentence is the journalistic equivalent of a drive-by shooting. A conclusion is offered without any argument to support it.
Mr McNally and Ms Mathews have been forced to sell their smash repair business to stay afloat financially and are on the brink of losing their family home.
Their business earned them $50,000 a year and they were told to borrow against the equity in their family home and business to fund their retirement.
They allege they were misled about the value and the financial performance of the properties they purchased, and have been crippled by the experience.
“They advised us to refinance our home, to get the equity out of it, to get the deposit for the first one and then go on like that. Then with our factory it was the same,” Ms Mathews told the ABC.
RESPONSE: Classification of Deception: (1) “Straw Man Fallacy”, (2) “Conspicuous Omission of Facts” & (3) “Ambiguity by Pronoun”.
ABC’s Argument: immediately preceding these four paragraphs, the plaintiff’s lawyer referred to “the Club”. As such, the above four sentences in context would appear to be a continuation of the falsely alleged wrongdoings of the Property Club.
ABC’s Problem: ABC deliberately uses ambiguous pronouns such as “they”, in quoting the plaintiff’s: “They advised us to refinance our home,…”. Whereas, in this case, “They” refers to an unnamed, independent third-party finance broker called “Greenspan Financial Service Pty Ltd.” Greenspan was NEVER mentioned in this entire article, even though they were a defendant in the now-dismissed court case and the ONLY party to whom these allegations were imputed.
There is no excuse for the ABC’s deliberate misrepresentation of the Property Club; this is not laziness, it is malice. The rules of grammar dictate that when a subject changes, it should be reflected in the explicit use of proper nouns, such as a person’s name or an organisation’s brand.
Furthermore, although The Property Club was not involved in the finance application process, the evidence discovery process for the court case, according to PC, revealed that the financial figures were, in fact, accurate. This is also admitted by the ABC in the hardly-noticeable footnote at the very end of the article, where the ABC acknowledges their possession of these facts, and yet they allow the injurious article to persist in its original form, without adequate fact correction.
[pullquote]“ABC Editor’s note December 19, 2014 admitting knowledge of inaccuracies: “In Tony McNally’s and Marie Mathews’ litigation over this investment scheme, the allegation of falsifying documents is made against the mortgage broker and not against Kevin Young or The Investors Club.” [/pullquote]
“We owned it outright and then we had to get the equity out of it to get the next two, and that’s the way it was.
“We had a small mortgage here on the house, we owned the factory outright, all our equipment and everything.
“We had no debts and then savings. We have nothing now.
“They did say we could get multiple properties. We didn’t expect the loans to go through if we weren’t able to afford them.”
RESPONSE: Classification of Deception: “Ambiguity by Pronoun”
ABC’s Argument: Once again, due to the flow of the article, readers are dishonestly led to believe that “they” is The Property Club because “Greenspan Financial Service” was never mentioned in this entire article.
ABC’s Problem: ABC is imputing wrongdoing to The Property Club, this was never alleged in the court case, or by those interviewed by 7.30 report. ABC is the author of this malicious fiction and has no excuse for the deception.
Couple alleges income falsified on loan documents.
The ABC has been told the couple was told to sign blank forms for their bank loan application because TIC employees told them that it was normal practice for the club to take care of the paperwork.
Lawyers allege the couple’s annual income was falsified on a number of loan application forms to enable them to purchase the properties.
In one loan application, their combined income was put at $300,000 per annum, when the previous year’s tax return had their combined income at $50,000.
RESPONSE: Classification of Deception: “A Lie”
Court proceedings established that the figures were, in fact, correct due to rental income, and other earnings. The couple did not have the rental income in the previous year, hence the differences.
“We knew there was something wrong because it was costing us so much. All the money was going into these properties. We had to stop renovating the house, and I said to Marie, ‘There’s something wrong’,” Mr McNally said.
“I asked them (TIC), ‘Why is it like this?’, and they were saying, the properties were already going up, ‘you’ve got equity in the properties, everything’s all right, just keep on’.
“I told them that if we kept going on like this, it would bankrupt us.
“We got the loan applications back one after the other and then we could see … they falsified the documents.
“We gave them our financials, we thought we were getting the loans on our financials, but they were fudged, they doctored the paperwork.”
RESPONSE: Classification of Deception: (1) “A Lie” and (2) “Ad Hominen” fallacy.
There were no falsified documents, notwithstanding these allegations were never levelled against The Property Club, only Greenspan, which was vindicated by The NSW Supreme Court when it dismissed the case.
Caroline McNally has been trying to help her parents unpick their financial mess.
“The amount of emotional crisis they’ve gone through, they’ve been suicidal, they’ve been embarrassed that they got sucked into this scheme. They’ve been guilty, ashamed – it’s been devastating to watch that,” she said.
“They wanted to retire with a bit of money and these people promised the world, and when they did have reservations they were told, ‘don’t be negative, be positive, this is working, there’s equity in the property, you’ve got equity in your house – go, go, go’. It was such a forceful way of getting people sucked in.”
RESPONSE: Classification of ABC Lies: “Appeal to Emotion”.
Here, the ABC attempts to manipulate an emotional response from the readers in place of a valid or compelling argument.
Investment scheme running for 20 years
The ABC has spoken to four other TIC investors who also claim their loan applications were based on overstated information.
A private investigator has lodged a complaint to Queensland Fair Trading alleging TIC staff are effectively doing real estate agents’ work without a licence and that it acts for vendors and purchasers in the same transaction.
RESPONSE: Classification of Deception: “Fabricated Evidence”, “Appeal to Authority” and “Ad Hominem” fallacies.
Fabricated evidence is information created illegally, to sway the verdict in a court case, or in this instance, to sway the reader’s opinion.
Ad hominem attacks can take the form of overtly attacking somebody, or more subtly casting doubt on their character, or personal attributes, as a way to discredit their argument.
This single “by-the-way” sentence is the most damning evidence against ABC. It could be the undoing of the entire ABC editorial team responsible for this fake-news story.
ABC’s Argument: The ABC appeals to the authority of Queensland Fair Trading along with an unnamed private investigator. By citing the accusations made by the third party private investigator, ABC attempts to side-step liability for defamation and accuses Property Club of committing serious crimes, namely working without a licence or registration.
ABC’s Problem: According to The Property Club (“PC”), “the private investigator is not just a third party; he is a discredited retired private investigator with a vendetta against the Property Club in defiance of a 2011 Federal court order. He and a competitor of the Property Club have harassed the Club with wild, unfounded claims since 2005”. It is further alleged by PC that in 2013 the pair managed to convince the Brisbane Courier Mail to publish an attack piece on the Property Club. When the journalist was made aware of the alleged injurious falsehoods, he deleted the story. While the story was still online, the very same P.I said that he is “preparing a complaint to Queensland’s Office of Fair Trading.” However, that complaint was apparently never filed…. until the ABC opportunity emerged. According to Kevin Young, this was not done in the public interest, but out of personal expedience and ulterior motives.
If PC’s assertions are accurate, this private investigator may have committed disqualifying offenses while working in cahoots with the ABC. According to Kevin Young, the OFT complaint falsely accuses Property Club administrators of committing crimes. PC’s legal department lodged a Freedom of Information request (FOI) with the Office of Fair Trade, requesting a copy of the complaint. According to Mr. Young, the OFT complaint was filed only one day before ABC interviewed Kevin Young.
Criminal Acts by ABC: If the above assertions are confirmed, the ABC and these agents (sources), would not only be liable for defamation and civil conspiracy, they could face criminal prosecution themselves. Qld CRIMINAL CODE 1899 – SECT 131 states that “any person who conspires with another to charge any person or cause any person to be charged with any offence, whether alleged to have been committed in Queensland, or elsewhere, knowing that such person is innocent of the alleged offence, or not believing the person to be guilty of the alleged offence, is guilty of a crime… the offender is liable to imprisonment for 14 years.”
The club, which has changed its name to the Property Club, makes its money from a 5 per cent commission paid by vendors. It runs on the mantra “We alone protect buyers”.
Kevin Young, one of Queensland’s richest men, took the ABC on a tour of his Brisbane office, where more than 30 employees help to research and coordinate the sale of properties to members.
TIC and the two other respondents have not filed a defence yet, and Mr Young told the ABC he could not comment on the court case.
NOTE: This is the same case that was dismissed by the NSW Supreme Court shortly after.
But he strenuously denied knowledge of loan documents being falsified as part of his scheme.
“If anyone comes to me, and no-one has come to me making that claim by the way, I would say go and see the banking ombudsman,” he said.
“They’ve got huge amounts of power that can quickly see this matter fixed up.
“But if you’re saying: Do I look over every finance application? No. Do I see any finance applications? No.
“I don’t have the right nor the knowledge to look over every finance application. I think we do up to $150 million worth of applications each month.”
‘Best educated property financial experts in the world’
Mr Young says his club does advocate drawing down equity in existing property to fund retirement plans.
“In most cases that’s the only alternative they’ve got because the wages are being screwed by taxation and high costs of electricity and all those other services, and the ability to save just isn’t there but they’re paying a lot of money off their own home,” he said.
“It’s a good store of wealth, it’s gone up in value, (so we tell them to) take a bit of that and don’t waste it, don’t buy a car or go on holiday or something, put it into a safe investment property.”
One arm of the club, TIC Realty, does have a real estate licence, but Mr Young says people working on behalf of his club do not need a financial services licence, despite the fact the ABC has seen evidence of detailed advice being given to members.
RESPONSE: Classification of Deception: “Strawman Argument”
A Strawman argument is where one exaggerates, misrepresents, or just completely fabricates someone’s argument, it’s much easier to present one’s own position as being reasonable, but this kind of dishonesty serves to undermine honest rational debate.
ABC’s Argument: Amy Bainbridge’s subtlety here is particularly vile. Her use of the connecting word “despite”, in the ordinary reading of the sentence, would lead a reasonable person to conclude that she had discovered evidence to support her implied contention that Kevin Young is lying.
ABC’s Problem: Just because the Property Club gives “detailed advice”, it does not mean that they need to be licensed in Financial Service! Or food preparation, or knitting or anything else that members of a club or other organisation might ask each other or the administrators.
“TIC doesn’t need a licence, but what we’ve got is probably the best educated property financial experts in the world,” he said.
“I’d put our people up against any experts that perhaps the ABC could muster in a room and we’ll go through the tips and traps in property and how they would calculate prices, how they would estimate someone’s forward expenses, and what sort of property they should hold, and then we can transfer that back in time to as many past periods as they like and we’ll run rings around them.”
The club has varying levels of membership, with platinum status in the Property Millionaires Club arm of the group limited to those who own properties with a total value of at least $10 million, including at least 10 club properties.
Investors feel misled over value of properties
The 7.30 program has learned some properties have dramatically lost value and projections of rental incomes were not achieved.
A group of investors from Western Australia bought into a TIC-promoted development called Kirribilli Heights in South East Queensland in 2007.
RESPONSE: Classification above deception: (1) “Conspicuous Omission Of Facts” and (2) “Texas Sharpshooter” Fallacies.
The Texas sharpshooter fallacy is an informal fallacy which is committed when differences in data are ignored, but similarities are stressed. From this reasoning, a false conclusion is inferred. The fallacy’s name comes from a parable in which a Texan fires his gun at the side of a barn, paints a bullseye around the bullet hole, and claims to be a sharpshooter. Though the shot may have been entirely random, he makes it appear as though he has performed a highly non-random act.
ABC’s ARGUMENT: In this subtle deception, Amy Bainbridge implies that the 7.30 Reports investigative team has uncovered important cluster evidence that this Property Club promoted development suffered an anomalous loss of value since its release in 2007.
ABC’s PROBLEM: Whereas, there was nothing subtle about the 2008 Global Financial Crisis (GFC), nor the conspicuousness of this dishonest omission. The GFC was Global, and with few exceptions it significantly impacted property values, including Kirribilli Heights. When this alleged cluster evidence is displayed with any other property release from that period, the outcomes would be, for the most part, indistinguishable.
Investor Rob Wright says investors feel misled about the values of their properties.
“The researchers at the time promoted this as probably the icing on the cake. They were expensive but they were in upmarket units, they were in a really good location, they were just off the Gold Coast,” Mr Wright said.
The properties are probably worth a third of their value price now and were never worth more than about half of their valued price.”
Steve Ward, investor
“I mean if I sold it today I would be somewhere close to $500,000 in the red and there’s no way of getting out of that.”
The properties’ sale prices were listed with state authorities which the club called the “purchase price” – figures much higher than the actual sale price.
For example, while the Titles Office record shows investor Steve Ward paid close to $1.2 million for his unit, he actually only paid $780,000.
But Mr Young says there is nothing unusual in the Kirribilli Heights development.
“That estate would have gone out with details in writing, comparisons. If there was a flaw with that, which is what you might be suggesting, go to the Office of Fair Trading and say, ‘Look, this is what they said to me in writing, go sue them’. That hasn’t happened,” Mr Young said.
In fact, another investor has already sued the club over the development and reached a confidential settlement.
Mr Ward says the Kirribilli Heights investors have been financially crippled. Far from $1.2 million or even $780,000, his unit is currently worth about $400,000.
“The properties are probably worth a third of their value price now and were never worth more than about half of their valued price,” Mr Ward said.
“That seems to be in general, not just me, for TIC there were 12 units that were sold as a group. TIC took on 12 units and issued those to members and I think everyone was in the same boat.”
Critics cite lax laws for property spruikers
Mr Ward also says the figures on his loan forms exaggerated his savings and the value of his assets.
“Our documents were changed or altered or added to in such a way that we were close to $350,000 overstated on the documents,” he said.
Wendy Priestly is also a Kirribilli Heights investor and has been appointed the president of the Property Millionaires Club.
She says she owns 25 properties and believes the Kirribilli Heights complex has only suffered a short-term drop in value.
Consumer advocates say it is yet another example of lax laws for property spruikers and a severe shortfall in consumer protection measures.
Denise Brailey from the Banking and Finance Consumers Support Association says people are pressured into deals they do not necessarily understand.
“Initially mum-and-dad investors aren’t real investors, they don’t wake up one morning and think, ‘I know, let’s take the equity out of our home’, they’re actually spruiked in the first place,” she said.
“They’re a target market because of the equity and they decide to go along to a workshop, and it’s the workshop that gives them the mathematics to believe that this is of benefit to them, but it tells you all the benefits and none of the risks.
“There are laws regarding false and misleading information, predatory lending. There’s any number of laws designed to curb the activities of the banks, the developers, the spruikers, the brokers that are all involved to put this together.
RESPONSE: Classification above deception: “Personal Incredulity.”
In a Personal Incredulity fallacy, the arguer draws conclusions because they can’t believe any other possibilities.
ABC’s ARGUMENT: That there are no good guys in the investment property industry.
ABC’s PROBLEM: Sweeping generalisations are intellectually dishonest.
“So therefore ASIC is the one that should have been taking notice of this and taking (action), but of course the last 10 years it hasn’t been successful at all.”
RESPONSE: Classification above deception: “Appeal to Authority“.
ABC’s ARGUMENT: Denise Brailey invokes the authority of ASIC to give weight to her argument that Property Club is bad.
ABC’s PROBLEM: The Property Club never committed the alleged offences.
Editor’s note December 19, 2014: In Tony McNally’s and Marie Mathews’ litigation over this investment scheme, the allegation of falsifying documents is made against the mortgage broker and not against Kevin Young or The Investors Club.
Editor’s note: In June 2015: Tony McNally and Marie Mathews settled the legal case referred to in this report and judgment was entered in favour of The Investors Club Ltd and the mortgage broker.
The defamatory article can be read here. We would welcome feedback, or contact from other victims of dishonest ABC journalism so we can tell your story too.
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Copyright Fair Use Counterclaim:
The above text has been quoted verbatim, in its entirety, and is exempt from any claims that ABC might make for copyright breach. It is reproduced under the fair use doctrine in order to criticise or comment upon the article. Furthermore, fair use is applicable in order to grant the victims named in the original, their “Right of Reply”, which has been unilaterally denied by the ABC, who continues to cause harm to the Property Club, its founder Kevin Young, and other hardworking members and staff.