Trump U Docs: Employee Calls Program A Huge Scam
Newly-released documents connected to the lawsuit against Trump University show that at least one former employers was willing to call out the workshop program as a gigantic scam.
Trump University, which was not an accredited program, offered seminars and workshops on the real estate industry from 2005 to 2010. It is currently the subject of a class-action lawsuit that accuses it of engaging in fraudulent practices. A huge treasure trove of documents relating to the lawsuit were unsealed Tuesday, with Judge Gonzalo Curiel saying they were in the public interest due to Trump’s ongoing presidential run.
Ronald Schnackenberg worked as a sales manager for Trump University from October 2006 through May 2007. In a four-page deposition, taken in 2012 and released Tuesday, Schnackenberg says the main reason for his short tenure was disgust with Trump University’s tactics and overall mission.
“I resigned from my position in May of 2007 because I believed that Trump University was engaging in misleading, fraudulent and dishonest conduct,” his deposition says. “I found it particularly offensive that, while Trump University claimed it wanted to help consumers make money in real estate, in fact Trump University was only interested in selling every person the most expensive seminars they possibly could.” (RELATED: Trump U Docs Are A Showcase Of High-Pressure Sales Tactics)
Schnackenberg details a case he found particularly appalling, where he spoke with a couple that was considering purchasing the $35,000 Elite seminar program, the most expensive one offered by Trump University.
“I did not feel it was an appropriate program for them because of their precarious financial condition – they had no money to pay for the program, but would have had to pay for the program using his disability income and taking out a loan based upon equity in his apartment,” he says.
Schnackenberg says he was reprimanded for not trying harder to close the sale, and he says another employee was ultimately able to convince them to sign up.
Schnackenberg doesn’t just accuse Trump University of engaging in dubious sales practices. He alleges that the program’s core pitch, that it could teach workshop attendees how to succeed in real estate, was also a huge scam.
“While Trump University claimed that its teachers and mentors were all experts in real estate, I believe that most of the instructors, mentors, and coaches had very little or no personal experience in the real estate techniques they were teaching,” he says. “I know this because I received complaints form Trump University students about this.” Schnackenberg even names one of the program’s speakers, saying his only background was in jewelry making when he was hired to give lectures on real estate.
The program didn’t have to teach much about real estate, Schnackenberg says, because in reality each of Trump University’s seminars was primarily focused on convincing customers to buy the next tier of the product.
“The whole purposes of the $1,500 seminar was to get people to sign up for the $35,000 Elite seminars,” he says. “And the whole purpose of the $35,000 Elite seminars was to get people to buy additional books, seminars, and products.”
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