To Learn The Donalds’ Business Secrets, Some Paid a Fortune to Attend His Seminars; Many Believe They Did Not Get Their Money’s Worth

Wrote this in August 2013 as a copywriter for a law firm; thought it an interesting read today, considering…noticed many of the source material stories were pulled offline…
Life-sized Donald Trump cardboard cutouts are for sale.

Donald Trump has been under fire for years for running his for-profit investment university, but recently the flames really engulfed The Donald: He was hit with a multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit.

In New York, from 2005 to 2011, Trump and his organization held groups of seminars available in different packages designed to teach real estate investing. Called Trump University for a time, the program’s seminars carried prices that were rather princely, ranging from $10,000 to $35,000. For those amounts Trump was offering something many considered priceless: an opportunity to learn about real estate from one of the most successful real estate moguls the world over. Many paid big fees to enroll, expecting to become successful in real estate.

Trump said he had created those seminars in 2005 to impart to the general public his decades worth of business acumen. He aggressively marketed the school, telling students that his handpicked instructors would teach them better than the best business school, according to a transcript of a Web video. Students attending one particular seminar believed they'd even gain some invaluable personal advice from Trump himself during a face-to-face meeting.

Seminars were typically held in hotel conference rooms by instructors wearing expensive suits, fancy cuff-links and chunky Rolex watches. PowerPoint presentations were part of the program, and students were given loose-leaf manuals and websites to access on their home computers.

At the end of the day, some Trump graduates did not believe they’d been given anything of value. They just felt a lot poorer and like they’d been scammed.

One man who attended the seminar ponied up $35,000 under the belief that he’d be given Donald Trump’s personal secrets to success in real estate, the Associated Press (AP) reported. All he’d actually been given was a photo of himself alongside a life-size cardboard cutout of Trump, who hadn’t bothered to attend a single seminar.

A woman who dished out about $17,000 to attend seminars concluded after only a few days that “what I learned there, I could [have just as well and for free] read on the Internet,” she told the AP. She fought to get her money back for two months. After all, the promotional package had included the promise of a refund. For two months the woman called and emailed — and never got a response (though ultimately she said her money was returned).

Another student who also told the AP the program wasn’t worth it said she had paid $10,000 in 2009; in return, she was expecting to get three instructor-led courses as well as access to advisers to guide her to private lenders and foreclosed properties. Instead, she said, she was told the courses would be offered in Texas and California and only online. She tried to cancel but was told she could not because it was too late for a refund.

Some students are filing their own lawsuits apart from the multimillion-dollar suit. One has sued Trump University separately in a Long Island courthouse; he said quite simply that he was the victim of a $25,000 “rip-off.” Another, in California, filed a lawsuit against Trump University, claiming the seminars were a scam that cost her nearly $40,000.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a civil lawsuit against Donald Trump for running a for-profit investment university built on a foundation of persistent fraudulent, illegal and deceptive conduct. Trump and his organization operated what amounted to an unlicensed educational institution, the lawsuit charges, according to a New York Times editorial. A license for such an endeavor is necessary under New York state law.

According to the lawsuit, some students in the initial three-day group seminar that cost $1,495 said they had been made to feel upset due to the pressure put on them to take a more expensive set of programs called the Trump Elite package.

False Claims, False Advertising Allegedly Fueled Program’s Recruitment Drive

Mr. Trump appeared in advertisements for the school making false promises to persuade people to spend tens of thousands of dollars they couldn’t afford for lessons they never got, according to the AG.

Schneiderman tweeted:

“Trump used his celebrity, personally appearing in commercials making false promises to convince #NY’ers to pay for lessons they never got …”
“No one, no matter how rich or popular they are, has right to scam hard working#NY’ers. Anyone who does should expect to be held accountable …”

One advertisement, for example, claimed that Trump had handpicked the instructors at his university to teach students a systematic method for investing in real estate, as the New York Times reported in an Aug. 25, 2013 article. However, as it turns out, Trump did not choose a single instructor and in fact had not even created a single item on the curriculum for its courses, according to the lawsuit.

Help for Those Who Were Enrolled in Trump University

If you or an acquaintance enrolled in any of the seminars related to Trump University which consisted of a series of educational courses designed to turn you into a success in the real estate business you may have valuable legal rights…