If you ask New York authorities, folks attending Donald Trump's investment courses might as well be buying some swamp land down in Florida.
The real-estate mogul is facing a $40 million lawsuit filed on Saturday by the New York State attorney general alleging his for-profit, unlicensed Trump Entrepreneur Institute duped people out of their money by making "false promises" about what they were getting.
Per the lawsuit filed on Saturday in New York, Attorney General Eric Schneidermanaccused Trump of an "elaborate bait and switch," in which the latter purportedly used his name and rep in a series of ads to mislead consumers into signing up for a three-day $1,500 seminar that claimed they would learn investment techniques "from Donald Trump's handpicked instructor" in order to get rich.
In actuality, the attorney general said a probe revealed Trump had "little or no role" in developing the curricula, let alone selecting instructors, and that many of the seminar's claims went unfulfilled.
Per the complaint, the Institute stated, among its many purported misrepresentations, that students would earn big bucks within the first 30 days of the seminar after learning Trump's real-estate strategies, and instructors would insinuate that Trump would make a personal appearance at the seminar. Instead, students were given an opportunity to take pictures with a life-size photo of the celebrity businessman.
Schneiderman alleged instructors also used the three-day classes to "upsell" consumers to pay anywhere from $10,000 to $35,000 to join costly "Trump Elite" mentorship programs, leaving many feeling like they had been victims of fraud.
And lastly, the school—which began operating in 2005—was forced to change its original name, "Trump University," in 2010 after lacking the appropriate charter under state law to call itself a university. It also was unlicensed as an educational institution.
Trump has adamantly denied the allegations, attacking Schneiderman as a "lightweight" on both Twitter and on Monday's Today show. He also suggested the lawsuit was politically motivated, accusing the AG of extorting him for campaign contributions.
When asked what evidence he had about Schneiderman targeting him for campaign funds, Trump responded by claiming the politician asked for money while his office was investigating the Trump organization.