Donald Trump finds himself back in the courts, as New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has filed a lawsuit claiming that Trump bilked New York students out of over $40 million with his “Trump Entrepreneurial Initiative,” also known as Trump University.
Trump University is an unaccredited program that offers courses in real estate, asset management, entrepreneurship, and wealth creation. It was founded in 2005 and is owned by the Trump Organization, which manages everything from real estate to modeling agencies to Trump-themed video games.
The suit alleges that Trump University illegally called itself as university despite never having a charter from the state. It also claims students we lured by a “free” class that led to a sales pitch for a $1,495 three-day seminar, that turned into an even more expensive membership fee to become a “Trump Elite.” Additionally, the suit claims Trump University advertised that its lecturers were real estate experts handpicked by Trump, while in reality none were. This lawsuit comes alongside a 2010 suit by a private party in California alleging much of the same.
Mr. Schneiderman is talking tough, appearing on CNBC to say that “Trump is going to have to face justice. He doesn’t like to do that.” Not to be outdone, Trump has responded with a ferocious Twitter war and launching an entire website dedicated to defending Trump University while ridiculing Schneiferman. Trump claims this is merely a political witch-hunt and that “over 98% of students gave Trump University an excellent rating.” Trump also claims Schneiderman is just upset that Trump did not give him enough in campaign contributions.
Meanwhile, the California case, filed by former Trump University student Tarla Makaeff, has taken on a unique life of its own. The suit claims “Defendant Trump University is more like an infomercial, selling non-accredited products, such as sales workshops, luring customers in with the name and reputation of its founder and Chairman, billionaire land mogul Donald J. Trump.”
Trump’s lawyers countersued, claiming defamation, and as evidence showed a recording of Ms. Makaeff saying her experience at Trump University was “great” and that the speakers “were really good.”
However, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the defamation suit, writing “as the recent Ponzi-scheme scandals involving onetime financial luminaries like Bernard Madoff and Allen Stanford demonstrate, victims of con artists often sing the praises of their victimizers until the moment they realize they have been fleeced.”
No matter what end of the continent you’re on, the Trump circus is just a courtroom away.
Here at the Poppe Law Firm®, we are delighted to see people pursuing their education, wherever it comes from. But, before you enroll and spend thousands to go back to school, be sure to do your homework first.