Trump Institute, a little-known seminar business with ties to Donald Trump, is facing accusations of misleading its customers, the New York Times reported.
The allegations come as the developer and Republican presidential candidate battles a lawsuit over another education venture, Trump University.
Trump Institute was launched in 2005 by Irene and Mike Milin and offered customers who paid up to $2,000 to attend seminars across the country to learn Trump’s “wealth-creating secrets and strategies,” the Times reported. Trump himself never owned the business, but allowed the Milins to use his name and appeared in advertising for the program in return for a fee, the newspaper said.
“I put all of my concepts that have worked so well for me, new and old, into our seminar,” he said in a 2005 video, according to the Times. “I’m teaching what I’ve learned.” The Institute also told its customers that Trump himself picked its teachers – which the Times claims was not the case.
According to the newspaper, Trump had little actual involvement in the business. Part of its education materials, supposedly based on Trump’s “wisdom”, were actually plagiarized from an obscure 1995 real estate textbook. The couple running the business had been accused of fraud and deceptive business practices before, according to the Times.
“That Trump Institute, what criminals they are,” retired court reporter Carol Minto, who attended one 2009 class and ultimately won a refund with the help of two state attorneys, told the Times. “They wanted to steal my money.” [NYT] — Konrad Putzier