The Attorney General for the City of New York has filed a lawsuit accusing Donald Trump's Trump University of being a scam. The suit alleges that while the program promised students that it would offer them money-making tips, the reality was that all the TU courses were simply sales pitches for more expensive seminars also offered by TU.
AG Eric Schneiderman explained that Trump University lied to consumers and failed to deliver on the claims that each instructor employed to teach TU courses was picked personally by Trump. Donald Trump is personally named in the suit as the current university chairman and the former university president. Neither Trump nor the University issued any statements about the filing.
However, one of Trump's attorneys accused Scheiderman of filing the lawsuit in retaliation after Trump turned down his requests for a contribution to his political campaign, and dismissed the claims as "extortion."
"Unlike some who are willing to turn a blind eye to fraud in exchange for campaign contributions, the attorney general is willing to follow an investigation wherever it may lead, even if that means investigating people with whom he's had a relationship, Schneiderman spokesman Andrew Friedman told The Associated Press.
State Education Department officials had told Trump to change the name of his enterprise years ago, saying it lacked a license and didn't meet the legal definitions of a university. In 2011 it was renamed the Trump Entrepreneur Institute, but it has been dogged since by complaints from consumers and a few isolated civil lawsuits claiming it didn't fulfill its advertised claims.
Schneiderman's lawsuit covers complaints dating to 2005 through 2011. Students paid between $1,495 and $35,000 to learn from the Manhattan mogul who wrote the best seller, "Art of the Deal" a decade ago followed by "How to Get Rich" and "Think Like a Billionaire."
According to the complaint, the free introductory courses didn't cover real estate. Even the course materials provided to the instructors were explicit in saying that attendees couldn't walk out of the three-day classes thinking that what they learned could be translated into financial success, Associated Press reports. Instead, teachers were supposed to encourage students to enroll in ever-more-expensive offerings that could – for a price – include individualized training and even an opportunity to meet The Donald himself.
At the seminars, consumers were told about "Trump Elite" mentorships that cost $10,000 to $35,000. Students were promised individual instruction until they made their first deal. Schneiderman said participants were urged to extend the limit on their credit cards for real estate deals, but then used the credit to pay for the Trump Elite programs. The attorney general said the program also failed to promptly cancel memberships as promised.