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September 2, 2013

Inside the NY-AG’s Lawsuit Suing Donald Trump Over “Trump University”

Filed under: Business,Finance — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:46 am

Last week, the New York Attorney General sued Donald Trump and others claiming a host of illegal practices engaged in by Trump University, the Donald’s real estate education program.

Among the AG’s allegations (and some things you didn’t hear in the news):

  • Students were induced to sign up for classes under the belief they would be taught Donald Trump’s personal strategies and techniques for investing in real estate. The material in the courses was never reviewed by Donald Trump and actually came from other seminars and courses about real estate. It also did not include some of the topics specifically advertised.
  • Trump’s free education seminar was really a sales pitch for a $1495 three-day course. His three-day program was itself in part an upsell sales pitch for an elite course costing up to $35,000. Trump University claimed this was a philanthropic endeavor that Trump would not profit from. In fact, they took in $40 million in sales, and Trump himself pocketed some $5 million in profits.
  • Trump University was repeatedly told by the New York State Education Department as far back as 2005 that it needed to be licensed and could not use the term “university” in its name. They didn’t change the name, however, until 2010.
  • Trump claimed in advertisements that he handpicked the instructors/mentors in the program, when he never did.
  • There were claims that the instructors were real estate experts, when some of them had just filed for real estate-related bankruptcies.
  • Students were told they would easily and quickly make back the money they spent on courses because mentors would in essence hold their hand through their first transaction. Mentors, however, disappeared after the course was over in some cases and students were left with significant credit card debt for the classes.
  • After the lawsuit was filed, Donald Trump defended the educational program saying that students filled out an evaluation and 98% said they were satisfied. What Trump didn’t say, and what the NY-AG alleges in his complaint, is that students filled out the non-anonymous evaluations before the course was over, were pressured to give the course good grades, and in some cases negative evaluations were changed to positive ones by staff.

And it goes on and on.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Here is a link to the actual complaint filed by the New York AG, with great detail about the promises made, and what was really going on behind the scenes. For example, most of the instructors/mentors were paid commissions based on the number of students they convinced to pay for the advanced seminars.

It is fascinating reading beginning to end. [Click the icon in the bottom right corner below to see the complaint full screen.]

• • •

7 Comments

  1. This Trump University thing is straight-up despicable.

    It bothers me that the New York State Education department allowed the name to say “university” for so long. Why are government entities often toothless when the public most needs them to bite?

    Trump University obviously lied about some things, but even then, when someone is promising you “easy money” or an “easy return on investment” you should do a whole lot of research or just say no. If the money is easy to make you can bet that a lot more people would be doing it, and it wouldn’t be a secret.

    Also, if you’re willing to spend thousands of dollars on classes, why not just go to college that is accredited? I don’t feel sorry for people who are just looking for fast easy money. I like to work hard for stuff. I shouldn’t say that all real estate agents are only looking for fast money, but that is often the story that is told. If anyone has a better representation of the real estate market I would like to be educated on it.

    Comment by Wayne R — September 2, 2013 @ 8:04 am
  2. The conduct of all the get-rich quick real estate seminars are nauseating and this is no different. What’s ironic is that Trump worked long and hard to establish a brand known for quality products. That and promotion are the reason for the sell-out of most of his buildings (I know about the flops too). Does “John Doe” really think he can put up a skyscraper, call it “Doe Tower” and have people flock to buy a piece of it?

    As for Trump, he dilutes his brand with conduct like this. Nobody wins with the exception of the AG who gets himself a nice dose of publicity.

    Comment by Joyce Matthews — September 2, 2013 @ 12:20 pm
  3. Wayne R I would not even call this a college as well. If you get no higher education credit I say it has to be named something else.

    BUTTT even if this was not legit calling it a university does make it look more prestigious though which increases enrollment.

    Comment by Richard Ginn — September 2, 2013 @ 12:51 pm
  4. Maybe he should start a barber college?

    Comment by Rick — September 3, 2013 @ 7:59 am
  5. Rick is right……. You will only learn how to cut one hair style… The Donald….

    Comment by Richard Ginn — September 3, 2013 @ 9:24 am
  6. Although I mostly agree with this, I’ve seen many places where “university” was just a name of a subsidiary of the company that trains people (usually employees, but sometimes the general public) e.g. TD University, or in advertizements referring to a non-existent entity, e.g. State Farm University, so I don’t see a problem here.

    Comment by BZ — September 3, 2013 @ 3:36 pm
  7. @BZ the proper bit is the accreditation. These sorts of training schools pop up from time to time. However, lets say you get a degree from one of these ‘universities’, then decide I want a real degree. Be prepared to retake all those classes. No ‘real’ university or college for that matter will accept the credits. I have known at least 2 people who did this. So they thought they were getting a higher education (most advertise 99% job placement too, which is a scam to get you in the door). They did get ‘an’ education. The thing is no one will recognize it. No employer, the gov, other schools, etc. So these schools take your money and run. Then when you go to get a job with the ‘degree’ you only have a HS equiv. Meaning less pay. So you get ripped off twice by these places.

    Comment by me — September 4, 2013 @ 9:36 am

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