Skip to comments.Yes, Trump University Was a Massive Scam
Posted on 02/27/2016 12:19:21 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
Many people believe that higher education is a de facto scam. Trump University, Donald Trump's real-estate institution, was a de jure one.
First thing first, Trump University was never a university. When the "school" was established in 2005, the New York State Education Department warned that it was in violation of state law for operating without a NYSED license. Trump ignored the warnings. (The institution is now called, ahem, "Trump Entrepreneur Initiative.") Cue lawsuits.
Trump University is currently the defendant in three lawsuits - two class-action lawsuits filed in California, and one filed in New York by then-attorney general Eric Schneiderman, who told CNN's New Day in 2013: "We started looking at Trump University and discovered that it was a classic bait-and-switch scheme. It was a scam, starting with the fact that it was not a university."
Trump U "students" say the same. In his affidavit, Richard Hewson reported that he and his wife "concluded that we had paid over $20,000 for nothing, based on our belief in Donald Trump and the promises made at the [organizations] free seminar and three-day workshop." But "the whole thing was a scam."
In fact, $20,000 is only a mid-range loss. The lead plaintiff in one of the California suits, yoga instructor Tarla Makaeff, says she was "scammed" out of $60,000 over the course of her time in Trump U.
How could that have happened? The New York suit offers a suggestion:
The free seminars were the first step in a bait and switch to induce prospective students to enroll in increasingly expensive seminars starting with the three-day $1495 seminar and ultimately one of respondents advanced seminars such as the "Gold Elite" program costing $35,000.
At the "free" 90-minute introductory seminars to which Trump University advertisements and solicitations invited prospective students, Trump University instructors engaged in a methodical, systematic series of misrepresentations designed to convince students to sign up for the Trump University three-day seminar at a cost of $1495.
The Atlantic, which got hold of a 41-page "Private & Confidential" playbook from Trump U, has attested to the same:
The playbook says almost nothing about the guest speaker presentations, the ostensible reason why people showed up to the seminar in the first place. Instead, the playbook focuses on the seminars' real purpose: to browbeat attendees into purchasing expensive Trump University course packages.
To do that, instructors touted Trump's own promises: that students would be "mentored" by "handpicked" real-estate experts, who would use Trump's own real-estate strategies. Heres Trump making the pitch himself:
Trump University Intro
But according to the New York complaint, none of the instructors was "handpicked" by Trump, many of them came from fields having nothing to do with real-estate, and Trump "'never' reviewed any of Trump University's curricula or programming materials." The materials were "in large part developed by a third-party company that creates and develops materials for an array of motivational speakers and seminar and timeshare rental companies."
Furthermore, Trump's promises that the three-day seminar ($1,495) would include "access to 'private' or 'hard money' lenders and financing," that it would include a "year-long 'apprenticeship support' program," and that it would 'improve the credit scores' of students were empty.
Those empty promises are the subject of a new series of anti-Trump ads by superPAC American Future Fund:
According to Bob, "I never heard from anybody about giving me a list of hard-money lenders":
Kevin, another Trump U "student," says Trump University "ruined" his credit score:
And according to Sherri, a single mother who participated in Trump U: "It was all supposedly supervised by Donald Trump, run by Donald Trump. All of it was just a fake."
In fact, Sherri isn't alone. No student ever met the Donald. Despite hints from Trump University instructors that Trump was "going to be in town," "often drops by," or "might show up," he never did. As Matt Labash recounted in The Weekly Standard: "At one seminar, attendees were told theyd get to have their picture taken with Trump. Instead, they ended up getting snapped with his cardboard cutout." Bob.., had such an "opportunity":
There could be many more ads to come. The New York lawsuit alone represents some 5,000 victims.
Meanwhile, Trump - who maintains that Trump University was "a terrific school that did a fantastic job" - has tried to bully his opponents out of the suit. Lawyers for Tarla Makaeff have requested a protective order from the court "to protect her from further retaliation." According to court documents, Trump has threatened to sue Makaeff personally, as well as her attorneys. He's already brought a $100 million counterclaim against the New York attorney general's office.
But it's not working. Trump himself will have to take the witness stand in San Diego federal court sometime during the election season - and because of the timeline of the cases, a "President Trump" would be embroiled in these suits long after November.
Meanwhile, if there is any doubt that Trump U was designed to be a scam, The Atlantic puts that to rest with a few other choice tidbits from that "Private & Confidential" playbook used by Trump presenters:
Every university has admission standards and Trump University was no exception. The playbook spells out the one essential qualification in caps: "ALL PAYMENTS MUST BE RECEIVED IN FULL." Basically, anyone with a valid credit card was admitted to Trump University....
If a member of the media happened to approach the registration table, Trump staffers were instructed not to talk to him or her under any circumstance. "Reporters are rarely on your side and they are not sympathetic," the playbook advises.
At one point, the playbook advises Trump staffers: "If a district attorney arrives on the scene, contact the appropriate media spokesperson immediately."
We were in Myrtle Beach years ago strolling through one of the open air shopping malls with some time to kill. A woman was handing out small brochures at a kiosk asking if we'd like to take in a free show while we were in town.
The catch was you had to go listen to a short "time share" pitch. We'd heard about "time shares" and wondered what all the hype was about so thought we could kill 2 birds with one stone - learn about it, take in a show and (third) fill an hour.
We'll it was an entire day of high pressure sales and a real education in "you deserve it," with sleaze bucket sales people working in tandem to make the sale - even down to the last guy sitting across from the window where we picked up our "free" tickets" - "ppssst" he calls from his office and then approaches us with kind assurances about how he knows those others were over the top aggressive but that he could set us up with something....
Cincinatus and I wouldn't give up those 5 hours of "education" for anything. It was a real eye-opener in how people are pressured by professional scammers to part with their money.
When I'd pointed out to the overbearing "floating" salesman who'd been brought over to the desk (there were rows and rows of desks with couples) where we were sitting that we had been promised before we came that there would be no "high pressure sales" he said "Who told you that!?"
I took out the brochure and showed him where it was printed in black and white. He walked off.
From the beginning we told everyone that we had no intention of buying anything and were willing to listen but all we wanted were tickets to the show.
I guess they hear that from a lot of people.
BTW, the show was pretty awful.
So I have a fair idea of how these "seminars" go.
Listen to that linked video above of Trump giving his pitch. There are other videos linked at the OpEd source link.
Ted Can Fix It!
This is essentially an attack on capitalism.
Sleazy stuff and we’re not done hearing about it. Not by a long shot.
Come the general election, the media and HRC are going to make “University” Donald’s last name.
Please point out what in this article is untrue. That's how rational argument works.
That’s what trials are for. In the meanwhile, NR.
Yeah. The article is as much hype as they claim Trump University was.
These class action lawsuits are as much a scam as any motivational lecture series.
I guess the product you are selling gets higher scrutiny if a “single mother” purchases it.
And a dozen other obvious ploys in the article.
Tell me Hamburger University isn’t a real university and all my illusions will be shattered.
So isn’t that false advertising? Because it was called Trump University.
Why didn’t they demand they meet with Trump before handing of 10k’s worth?
Okay, I’ll give you points for that.
Exactly. That it was not an accredited institution of higher learning is rather obvious in that it was a series of a few lectures by successful people on how to develop real estate.
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