Trump family sued in ACN related class-action
This is a bit of an odd one. Not only for the timing (there are elections in the US happening right now), but also because although the lawsuit pertains to funds lost through ACN, ACN isn’t a named defendant.
Oh and the plaintiffs are four anonymous individuals.
Things that make you go hmm…
As with all our legal coverage, my personal political beliefs have no place in our reporting. So I want to make it abundantly clear that the political alignment of the named defendants has no bearing on my analysis.
The proposed class-action was brought forward by four anonymous individuals in New York on October 29th.
Named as defendants in the suit are The Trump Corporation, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump.
Reproduced below verbatim, the opening introduction pretty much sets the tone of the lawsuit.
This case is about four working-class Americans, and thousands more just like them, who were deliberately defrauded by Donald J. Trump, his family, and the corporation that bears his name.
The Trumps conned each of these victims into giving up hundreds of thousands of dollars–losses that many experienced as devastating and life-altering.
Surely the Trumps dismissed these amounts (and the lived they wrecked) as trivial.
But by defrauding so many for so long, the Trumps made millions.
Enter the MLM company ACN, which the lawsuit alleges was “central to the Defendant’s fraudulent scheme”.
BehindMLM reviewed ACN in 2014. We found a typical service-based MLM opportunity with unnecessarily high $499 start-up cost.
I’m not really a fan of service-based MLMs, as typically you wind up with a circle-jerk of affiliates signing up for services (and paying more because it qualifies them to earn).
That said ACN did put some effort toward ensuring its affiliates were marketing to retail customers.
In the lawsuit our anonymous plaintiff’s take objection to the Trump family’s promotion of ACN.
Defendants received millions of dollars in secret payments to promote and endorse ACN.
Trump … told investors that he had “experienced the opportunity” and “done a lot of research,” and that his endorsement was “not for any money.”
Not a word of this was true.
ACN is characterized as an investment in the lawsuit, along with The Trump Network and Business Strategies Group.
The Plaintiff’s allege they were led to believe they’d ‘have a reasonable probability of commercial success if they bought into the investments‘.
The message was materially false.
The investments did not–and could not— offer a reasonable probability of success.
Nor was Trump endorsing the investments because he believed that they would.
Indeed, Defendants were aware that the vast majority of consumers would lose whatever money they invested in the business opportunities and training programs the endorsed entities offered.
In a nutshell, Trump’s endorsement is singled out as the primary motivating factor for people signing up to ACN.
The Trump endorsement was typically the first thing (potential investors) learned about the investments, the reason they took an interest, and the determining factor in their decision to invest.
“Trust me,” Trump often said in endorsing and promoting the investments.
Unfortunately, far too many victims did.
How much Trump was paid to promote ACN is not disclosed (either by ACN, Trump or the lawsuit), however “millions of dollars in secret payments” are claimed.
Outside of Donald Trump’s endorsement, his children are named defendants as a result of their association with The Trump Corporation and the Trump Association-in-Fact.
The one hundred and sixty-page lawsuit details pages and pages of examples of Trump allegedly making false claims and representations about ACN.
Causes of action in the proposed class-action across eight counts include:
- racketeering in violation of the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)
- conspiracy to conduct the affairs of a racketeering enterprise
- dissemination of untrue and misleading public statements in violation of California Business and Professions Code
- unfair competition in violation of California Business and Professions Code
- unfair and deceptive trade practices in violation of Maryland Consumer Protection Act
- Unfair and deceptive acts or practices in violation of Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law
- common law fraud and
- common law negligent misrepresentation
Before I get into my main problem with this lawsuit, I want to address the anonymous plaintiff thing.
Given people and companies critical of Trump (perceived or actual) are being sent bombs, along with the current climate of politically themed violence in the US, yeah OK the plaintiffs get somewhat of a pass.
However I still think the plaintiffs being anonymous doesn’t do anything for the credibility of the lawsuit. Especially when your naming high-profile defendants, no less than the current President of the US among them.
A lawsuit is full of allegations and, if you’re going to make them, the least you can do is put your name to them.
Every now and then I get called out on publishing on BehindMLM as “Oz”. The difference between our coverage and reviews and a lawsuit is that we provide sources for our information.
A lawsuit can be based on fact but is not factual in and of itself till judgement.
If I was going to set about publishing allegations of my own accord, then yes I’d be wanting to put my name to them.
With that in mind and seeing as it’s likely to come out at some point anyway (surely you can’t sue the President of the US and hope to remain anonymous), the plaintiffs filing anonymously rubs me the wrong way.
Then there’s the contents of the lawsuit itself.
Clearly this is about money lost in ACN, so how is it ACN itself is not a defendant?
That single fact draws into question the motive behind the lawsuit.
Had I of lost money through a company that I felt had misled me, I’d be going after the company.
Donald Trump was undoubtedly part of the ACN marketing machine, and if the allegations hold up, there’s probably some level of liability there.
But surely that’s secondary to holding ACN accountable? Unless Trump owned part of and/or helped run ACN, how are he and his family through Trump Corporation the only defendants?
Trump was (allegedly) paid by ACN, not the defendants. They bought into ACN and that should translate into ACN being the primary focus of a lawsuit pertaining to losses as a result of participation in ACN.
Or so you’d think.
Instead this proposed class-action feels deliberately selective in nature and more about “Hey, we sued Trump!”; as opposed to “ACN defrauded us by hiring Trump to make misleading marketing statements and we want our money back!”
And I don’t like the way that sits.
I’ve added the Trump ACN lawsuit to our list of tracked cases so stay tuned for updates as we receive them.
Update 12th June 2023 – The Trump children were dismissed as defendants in May 2023.
Update 17th January 2024 – The ACN Trump RICO class-action was dismissed in its entirety on January 11th, 2024.