Trump U just one of his branded enterprises ‘deceptively peddling’ to ‘easy targets’
Donald Trump lent his name to a bunch of questionable enterprises where the goal was to separate people who could least afford it from their money, as the New York Times reports in a page one Sunday feature.
“Easy target” might describe the audience for several enterprises stamped with the Trump brand that have been accused of preying upon desperation, inexperience or vanity. Some are well known. Trump University has most recently gained notice because of Mr. Trump’s attacks on the Mexican heritage of the judge overseeing a fraud lawsuit brought by former students. There was also a multilevel vitamin-selling enterprise, the Trump Network, that Mr. Trump had said would give hope to people looking to “opt out of the recession.”
But intersecting with these was another, largely unexamined, business venture, Cambridge Who’s Who, which generated hundreds of complaints that it deceptively peddled the promise of recognition in a registry, as well as branding and networking services of questionable value. Dozens of people who paid Trump-endorsed businesses were also sold products by Cambridge, which benefited from its partnership with Donald Trump Jr. through “leveraging relationships built by the Trump empire,” according to Cambridge…
A 69-year-old woman from Kansas reported that she had paid $788 for services she claimed were “not worth $50 collectively” while she was going through a divorce and “looking for a way to make a living, build a new life and expand my career through this organization.” After she complained to the New York State attorney general’s office, she eventually received a refund…
In Oregon, Phyllis Fread was in her 80s, dealing with Parkinson’s disease and had been retired from teaching for almost two decades when Cambridge started calling her at home, where she lived alone. Cambridge salespeople telephoned Ms. Fread — who did not use the internet — 42 times trying to sell her networking services, a website and other products she did not need, according to an investigation by the Oregon attorney general’s office.
Over a two-year period, Cambridge charged her $14,593 for a video biography, calendars, a plaque and other items, including a news release in June 2010 titled “Phyllis J. Fread Reveals Her Secret to a Long Career in Education.” The release included a mention of Donald Trump Jr., saying he “was eager to share his extensive experience” with Cambridge clients.
Eventually, Ms. Fread reached her credit card limit and her son disconnected her telephone to stop Cambridge from calling. In a recorded interview with an investigator from the attorney general’s office, Ms. Fread became emotional as she recalled how “there were all kinds of things they’d push and I’d say, ‘I don’t want it at all.’”