Pyramid scheme fraud suit against Trump and his family to go ahead

The family is accused of fraud and false advertising of a multilevel marketing company

Danielle Zoellner
Wednesday 20 May 2020 08:17 BST
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A federal judge has refused to halt a class-action suit against President Donald Trump and his family alleging they promoted a pyramid scheme.

Judge Lorna G Schofield in Manhattan denied the Trump family request on Monday for a stay while they challenged a previous ruling for the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, led by four anonymous plaintiffs, claimed that Mr Trump and his children Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump were guilty of fraud and false advertising by promoting a multilevel marketing company called American Communications Network (ACN). In exchange, the Trump family allegedly received millions of dollars in secret payments.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was initially filed in October 2018, also claimed the promotion by the Mr Trump and his children of ACN encouraged them to invest hundreds of dollars into the company, but they never reaped any benefit from the investment.

"The Trumps conned each of these victims into giving up hundreds or thousands of dollars – losses that many experienced as a devastating and life-altering," the lawsuit claimed. "Surely the Trumps dismissed these amounts (and the lives they wrecked) as trivial. But by defrauding so many for so long, the Trumps made millions."

Ms Schofield cited the Trump team's unsuccessful bid to force the case into arbitration as a reason why an appeal would not work. Other factors were also considered when coming to her decision

"Weighing the two 'most critical' factors – likelihood of success on the merits and irreparable harm – against each other, any prejudice that Defendants and ACN may suffer from proceeding with the litigation during the pendency of the appeal does not outweigh the strong likelihood that Defendants and ACN will not succeed on appeal," the judge wrote.

The president's team of lawyers argued the plaintiffs had no legal standing and asked for the case to move to arbitration to protect a majority of it from the public eye.

But the judge denied the motion, and the Trump team since appealed her decision.

In March, the judge ordered the Trump team to provide 15 years of detailed documents relating to the case, which encouraged the lawyers to ask for arbitration.

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