Who Was Ripped Off by Trump University?

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Who was ripped off by Trump University?

People who were too trusting.

The New York Times here describes the war widow who put her husband’s insurance policy into Trump University and found herself the object of unending sales pitches, not only from Trump University, but from “Cambridge Who’s Who,” a phony company affiliated with Donald Trump, Jr., which promised to give its clients recognition and a “brand.”

The sales pitches seeking to separate Cheryl Lankford from her money began during the recession as she struggled to get back on her feet after the death of her husband, an American soldier serving in Iraq.

Two of them were from companies that have boasted the Trump name.

One was Trump University, the real estate sales seminar that Donald J. Trump promoted as a way for average people to profit from opportunities in the housing market. Ms. Lankford said she spent $35,000 from an Army insurance payment to learn Mr. Trump’s secrets.

Another was Cambridge Who’s Who, a vanity publisher promising “branding services” that seemed to complement the real estate business she hoped to create. She paid thousands of dollars to Cambridge, whose spokesman and “executive director of global branding” was Mr. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr.

Six years later, Ms. Lankford, who is 44 and has a son, has little to show for the money she spent, aside from a nagging sense that she was taken advantage of. Several friends in her community in San Antonio fell for similar offers, she said, but most are not eager to talk about it.

“As a widow, you find you were so dependent on your husband, and when you make a mistake because of predatory businesses, it’s embarrassing,” Ms. Lankford said. “We’re an easy target.”

“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.

Cambridge was not a Trump company; it was operated by Randy Narod, a Long Island, N.Y., nightclub and bagel store owner barred from the securities industry for having had an impostor take his licensing exam. However, Cambridge gained the Trump imprimatur when the younger Mr. Trump came on board in 2010 and began promoting its services as a way for people to distinguish themselves in a tough economic climate.

Can you believe that this huckster and snake-oil salesman is the Republican candidate for President?

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