Real estate tycoon Donald Trump was sued Saturday by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for $40 million. The lawsuit claims The Apprentice star helped run “Trump University,” a phony program that promised riches and apprenticeships in real estate but never delivered.
Instead, what it did deliver was useless seminars that came with a Trump-size price tag, costing students up to $35,000. Schneiderman said students didn’t even get to meet Trump but got their picture taken in front of a life-size picture of him.
Students were worse off financially after they studied with instructors who were “hand-picked” by Trump because of the high costs of the seminars. They would take the initial three-day program then were told they needed more instruction to be successful. If they signed up for “Trump Elite,” they would get individualized coaching until they made their first real estate deal. That one-on-one instruction came with a price between $10,000 to $35,000. When students tried to cancel their memberships, the program wouldn’t do so in a timely manner. The $40 million will serve as restitution.
The attorney general is suing the “university,” Donald Trump as chairman, and the “university” president for persistent fraud, violating federal laws of consumer protection, illegal and deceptive conduct. Complaints from 2005 through 2011 are included in the lawsuit. The case will be heard in Manhattan’s state Supreme Court.
This is not the first time “Trump University” has come under fire. The New York State Department of Education had told Trump the name needed to be changed several years ago because it was not an accredited university and didn’t have the required license. The name was changed in 2011 to Trump Entrepreneur Institute, but that didn’t make the legal problems go away. The complaints from participants continued and, in some cases, progressed to civil lawsuits on the grounds that the program didn’t fulfill its promises.
Written by: Cynthia Collins