New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump, The Trump Entrepreneur Institute — formerly named Trump University — and Michael Sexton, former President of Trump University for engaging in persistent fraudulent, illegal and deceptive conduct in connection with the operation of Trump University.
Between 2005 through 2011, Trump University operated as an unlicensed educational institute that promised to teach Donald Trump’s real estate investing techniques to consumers nationwide but instead misled consumers into paying for a series of expensive courses that did not deliver on their promises.
“More than 5,000 people across the country who paid Donald Trump $40 million to teach them his hard sell tactics got a hard lesson in bait-and-switch,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Mr. Trump used his celebrity status and personally appeared in commercials making false promises to convince people to spend tens of thousands of dollars they couldn’t afford for lessons they never got. No one, no matter how rich or popular they are, has a right to scam hard working New Yorkers. Anyone who does should expect to be held accountable.”
The petition filed in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan by Attorney General Schneiderman details the advertisements run by Trump University in major newspapers across the country and the direct mail solicitations sent to entice consumers to attend a free workshop.
The ads prominently displayed Donald Trump’s photograph and signature, or were styled as letters written by Trump himself.
Schneiderman alleged that the advertisements were replete with false claims, including claims that consumers would learn “from Donald Trump’s handpicked instructor a systematic method for investing in real estate that anyone can use.”
Other ads promised “my handpicked instructors will share my techniques” or “learn from my hand-picked expert” and “just copy exactly what I’ve done and get rich.”
Schneiderman alleged that Donald Trump did not handpick even a single instructor at these seminars and had little or no role in developing any of the Trump University curricula, or seminar content.
The officials used the name “Trump University” even though they lacked the charter necessary under New York law to call themselves a University.
They were also unlicensed under New York State Education Law, evading an array of legal protections designed to protect New Yorkers from fraud.
Schneiderman said that despite Trump University’s advertised claims, consumers attending free seminars did not learn Donald Trump’s real estate techniques. Instead, Trump University’s instructors made multiple misrepresentations to convince consumers to sign up for a $1,495 three-day seminar.
In reality, many of the promises made at the free seminars went unfulfilled. Despite claims to the contrary, consumers who paid for and attended the three-day seminars were not taught everything they needed to know about real estate investing.
The lawsuit seeks full restitution for the more than 5,000 consumers nationwide who were defrauded of over $40 million in the scheme, disgorgement of profits, as well as costs and penalties and injunctive relief prohibiting these types of illegal practices going forward.