Between 2005 and 2010, Donald Trump’s Trump University raked in an estimated $40 million from nearly 10,000 students who were baited with his image of success and extreme wealth. Unfortunately, it was all a huge scam.
Trump currently faces three separate lawsuits including two class action suits filed in California and one filed in New York by the state’s attorney general.
Established in 2005, Trump University offered a wide array of courses and mentorship services that promised to teach students real estate investing techniques developed by the business mogul himself. Trump University ran until 2010 and enlisted nearly 10,000 students across the nation.
The cost of courses ranged from $1,495 for three-day seminars to $35,000 for the “Gold” level programs that would include access to personal mentoring, real estate field trips and the information and methods that made Trump a billionaire.
However, students who enrolled for the program have stepped forward to decry Trump University as a deceptive scam where promises of success in real estate were made but not delivered. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told CNN after filing suit in 2013:
“We started looking at Trump University and discovered that it was a classic bait-and-switch scheme. It was a scam, starting with the fact that it was not a university.”
While Michael Sexton, former president of the program, and Donald Trump claimed the courses were taught by experts chosen by Trump, the teachers were neither hand-selected nor professionals. One lawsuit filed in 2010 by former students who paid up to $35,000 for their premier education lamented that it was a false advertising sham “full of empty promises.”
One student, Kathleen Meese, wrote in her affidavit:
“I have not been able to get in touch with anyone after I signed up for the trump Gold Elite Program.”
Another dissatisfied participant, Michele Cintron, claimed in her affidavit to have paid $25,000 for special access to high-level mentors who were essentially a “non-existent ‘power team.’”
Trump’s attorney Alan Garten said that many students have been satisfied with the overall quality of the program. However, he believes those who are unhappy shouldn’t blame the program. He states that it’s the students’ own faults for their lack of success. He told CNN:
“All we can do is provide the tools for people to go out there and apply these things. I can’t control what happens out in the real world. If someone goes and takes our classes and decides to sit on their couch and not apply them, I can’t help that, OK?”
Garten put some of the blame on the 2008 recession for students’ troubles in the real estate market. In addition, he provided CNN with 14 affidavits from satisfied students and pointed out that the number of students who complained about Trump University are “miniscule” compared to the total 10,000 who enrolled.
The litigation against Trump’s alleged fraudulent education courses has been ongoing for nearly five years. The presidential hopeful is reportedly determined to fight all three lawsuits until he wins, even if that means his legal fees outdo the profits he earned from Trump University.
Trump won a recent victory in the case when a California judge made a ruling that made it difficult for students who enrolled to get any financial compensation for damages regardless of whether they could prove the courses were fraudulent. Garten told CNN:
“We’re very confident we are going to win.”