Monday, September 14, 2015

Was Donald Trump’s education venture, Trump University, a scam?

Emma Brown
The Washington Post

They hoped to get rich off real estate, and who would be a better mentor than one of the richest men in the world? So they enrolled in Donald Trump’s university to learn the tricks of the trade, some of them maxing out their credit cards to pay tens of thousands of dollars for insider knowledge they believed could make them wealthy.

With Trump rising in the polls as the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, his brief foray into education is an episode — and a business failure — that remains far more obscure than other chapters of the celebrity billionaire’s career.

Never licensed as a school, Trump University was in reality a series of real estate workshops in hotel ballrooms around the country, not unlike many other for-profit self-help or motivational seminars. Though short-lived, it remains a thorn in Trump’s side nearly five years after its operations ceased: In three pending lawsuits, including one in which the New York attorney general is seeking $40 million in restitution, former students allege that the enterprise bilked them out of their money with misleading advertisements.

Instead of a fast route to easy money, these Trump University students say they found generic seminars led by salesmen who pressured them to invest more cash in additional courses. The students say they didn’t learn Trump’s secrets and never received the one-on-one guidance they expected.

It’s a chapter of Trump’s past that shows how he sometimes defies the usual laws of campaign physics. Such allegations of multi­million-dollar fraud might sink other candidates, but in Trump’s case, even some of the students who felt duped said they haven’t given up on him: They like Trump. They admire him. They might even vote for him.

(More here.)

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