A lawsuit pending with the Manhattan Supreme Court claims that Trump University, founded by Donald Trump, was a scam that cost its students millions of dollars.
At least 600 students said they were scammed out of money to attend the school, as suits filed both in New York and California argue that students who attended Trump U were repeatedly asked to pay additional charges and pressured to continually purchase mentorships adding up to $35,000 per person. Students also commented that it was suggested to them that they lie about their income to increase their credit limits.
An internal document from the university titled “surefire script to more purchasing power,” suggests students create larger incomes for themselves by adding in “projected” earnings, writes Glenn Minnis for The Latin Post. The document asks students to create a name of a fictitious business as long as they did not add “real estate” in the name. Instead, it was suggested that they “be vague.”
“As soon as I attended the first workshop, I knew I had been scammed,” 75-year-old Robert Guillo told the New York Daily News. “Every single workshop, they charged you another amount. Everything was to get you to spend more and more and more.”
The suit argues that attending the school led to increased credit card debt for its students, as well as a significant drop in credit scores. Some cases came with even more damaging results.
In a sworn affidavit, Kathleen Meese of Schoharie in Upstate New York said she was pressured to purchase a $25,000 “elite” program by a “mentor” of the school. When she explained she had a son with Down Syndrome who had medical bills she needed to pay, she said the mentor responded by pushing her to “sign up for Trump Gold Elite for $25,000 to help my family. He said he had a son, so he knew how family meant everything to me.”
Meese said she finally agreed when it was promised to her that she would make her money back within 60 days and that she could put the program on a credit card. She added that the mentor had promised to work directly with her. However, this promise only held true until it became too late to seek a refund. At that point, she was handed over to another mentor, writes Greg Smith for The Daily News.
So far, Judge Cynthia Kerr has found the school to have violated state education laws because Trump labeled his institution a “university” when it did not have the licensing authority to do so. Possible restitution will be decided upon at a future hearing.
Two additional class-action suits have been filed in California against the school. Those cases are still pending.