In the beginning, before Trump University there was the “National Grants Conferences” (NGC). This was the business platform Trump University was built on — a classic get-rich-quick scam.
It turns out just about the time NGC was shape shifting into Trump Institute (soon to be Trump U.) the company was successfully sued for consumer fraud here in Vermont and 32 other states .
In 2006, NGC [Trump University’s precursor] was sued by Vermont’s attorney general, Bill Sorrell, who said that it had violated state consumer protection laws. The case was settled later that year, with NGC agreeing to pay nearly $325,000 in refunds to Vermont customers, along with attorneys’ fees. [$65,000 worth of legal fees]
NGC traveled the country offering free seminars, heavily advertised in local newspapers and on TV that promised to share the secrets of real estate investment. Gaining access to “hundreds of billions of dollars” in “free government money” was the key pitch to the success they claimed to provide.
At the end of the session, dozens of attendees lined up to buy $999 NGC “memberships,” receiving two thick books full of government programs and the promise of ongoing coaching and support.
It almost goes without mentioning that the coaching, support and wealth never arrived for those who had spent thousands to learn the secrets to success NGC claimed.
Through the 1990’s the business weathered a series of lawsuits from the Texas Attorney General. However NGC was a successful model for Mike and Irene Milin, and Donald Trump caught wind of it sometime in 2006. He simply replaced the lure of imaginary “free” government money with promises to teach enrollees how to run Trump’s imaginary magic money machine. By the way, the Milins were also high rolling Republican donors including to the Romney/Ryan
2008 2012 Presidential campaign.
Eventually a “blizzard of legal woes,” including the 33-state legal action Vermont had joined, brought the original National Grants Conferences to an end. But by then Trump had partnered with the company founders using the existing template NGC provided to form his own huge University — that he recently compared to Harvard.
And Donald J. Trump, the future Republican candidate for President, moved quickly to raise the old NGC fee from $999 to $1,300 and up. It has been “classy” and “huge” since. According to the Donald, strictly Ivy-league caliber stuff — truly a record to run on.