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Trump Scammed Inexperienced Investors Through Endorsement Deals, Lawsuit Claims

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In 2014, a financially struggling hospice caregiver in California decided to invest in a video phone marketing company by the name of ACN.

She knew little about business and even less about telecommunications, but a video heavily featuring Donald Trump’s endorsement of the company as “one of the best businesses” played at an ACN “training event” she attended allayed her fears.

The woman bought in, paying ACN a $499 “registration fee” to join the company, then forking over thousands more to attend “training events” all over the country over the next two years. 

Trump photos and the Trump video featured heavily in every seminar and twice-monthly meetings ― a fixture seemingly designed to ease questions of legitimacy and coax members to continue forking over cash. (For the thousands she put in, by the time the woman quit ACN, she had got back just $38.)

And according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan on Monday, ACN, along with two other Trump-endorsed “business opportunities,” amounted to little more than predatory schemes that deliberately preyed on inexperienced, financially distressed investors. The suit, filed on behalf of four people who lost money in the get-rich-quick schemes, seeks class action status on behalf of thousands of similarly treated individuals. 

Copies of the Trump University's <i>How to Build Wealth</i>&nbsp;at a Barnes &amp; Noble store in&nbsp;2005 in New York City.


Scott Gries via Getty Images

Copies of the Trump University’s How to Build Wealth at a Barnes & Noble store in 2005 in New York City. A lawsuit has accused Donald Trump and the Trump Organization of defrauding investors.

The lawsuit claims ACN secretly paid Trump millions of dollars for his endorsement (Trump claimed in his ACN promo that his endorsement was “not for any money”) in exchange for his falsely portraying ACN and several other schemes as legitimate business opportunities.

In addition to ACN, the suit mentions the Trump Network, which peddled bogus “personalized” vitamin regimens, and the Trump Institute, which, like the similarly legally embroiled Trump University, charged attendees as much as $35,000 to attend multiday seminars on Trump’s real estate “secrets,” as examples of other similar schemes. (The Trump Institute also reportedly plagiarized some of its course materials and received an F rating from the Better Business Bureau.) 

The suit describes the Trump endorsements together as “a pattern of racketeering activity.”

Donald Trump, the Trump Organization, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump are listed as co-defendants in the suit.

“The Trumps conned each of these victims into giving up hundreds or thousands of dollars ― losses that many experienced as devastating and life altering,” the suit claims. “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.”

In a statement to The New York Times, which first reported the story, the Trump Organization dismissed the suit as a “completely meritless” attempt to push a political agenda:

Read the full 160-page filing, below:

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Ontario’s new automated speed enforcement explained

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(NC) To wage the war against speeding, many municipalities across Ontario have turned to automated speed enforcement. Most recently introduced in Toronto, speed cameras are a high-tech solution to reduce speeding and are considered one of the most effective ways to create safer roads and save lives.  

Recognizing police officers cannot catch all speeders, these cameras fill the gap, providing monitoring in specific locations around the clock. When a car’s speed is even one kilometre over the posted amount, it will take a picture of the offending vehicle’s license plate, using the captured photo as indisputable evidence. A ticket is then served to the vehicle’s owner, regardless of who was driving. 

With a focus on high-risk areas, Ontario’s automated speed enforcement cameras are located in two specific municipal areas: school and community safety zones. School zones are designated streets close to a school, featuring reduced speed limits as dictated by local bylaws. Community safety zones are high-risk corridors and intersections, subject to increased fines and penalties.  

While the Ontario Highway Traffic Act outlines the use of automated speed enforcement, municipalities can decide when and where to use cameras to curb speeding. The act does dictate financial penalties for speed violations captured with cameras, which vary depending on the number of kilometres caught over the speed limit.  

Speed enforcement is not new, but part of a broader, integrated road safety strategy that includes infrastructure improvements, awareness campaigns and new uses of technology. City officials hope for a halo effect, inspiring better driving behaviour across entire communities, not only in areas with cameras. A controversial topic, some critics take exception to speed cameras, labelling them as sneaky cash grabs for municipalities. Governments think the opposite. 

Safety advocate and auto insurance provider Onlia is hopeful that the cameras will provide drivers with a reminder to slow down, especially in high-risk areas like school and community safety zones.  

For those who obey the speed limit, automated speed enforcement shouldn’t change anything about your driving style, says Alex Kelly, Safety Ambassador at OnliaDrivers have fair warning as they approach areas with speed cameras, as mandatory signs provide reasonable notice of upcoming automated speed enforcement. Regardless of warnings, the best speed is the posted speed. 

You can start to understand your speeding style by downloading the insurance provider’s new safe driving app that coaches and rewards for you for safe driving habits.

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Online banking: How to protect yourself from fraud

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(NC) Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, a growing number of consumers are regularly using mobile and online banking to paybill payments, transfer money and make purchases.

Although these tools can give you easy access to your personal finances on demand, there are also some risks involved. For instance, your banking information—such as your debit or credit card number, user name, or personal identification number (PIN)—could be stolen. If criminals have access to your online banking information, they can steal your money, which is why it’s so important to be  vigilant when you bank online.

Follow these tips to help protect your personal and banking information:

  • For your online bank accounts, use a strong password that can’t be easily guessed, and never share your user name or password with anyone.
  • Check your accounts regularly to make sure there are no transactions you didn’t make or authorize.
  • When making online purchases, never authorize a website to save your credit card information, password or other personal information. Giving websites this permission will save you some time the next time you access the site, but it poses a real threat if a hacker manages to access your information.

Most financial institutions have policies to protect you from transactions that you didn’t make.

However, you are responsible for protecting your online and mobile banking information. If you give your details to anyone—including your spouse or partner, a family member or a friend—your financial institution may hold you responsible for any unauthorized transactions in your account, and even strip you of protection from unauthorized transactions in the future.

If you suspect your information may have been compromised, change your passwords immediately, and check your account and credit card statements for anomalies and report any suspicious transactions to your financial institution.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has created resources to help you protect your online banking information.

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Payday loans: Not the best way to borrow money

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(NC) Payday loans are a very expensive way to borrow money. Even if you’re struggling financially, think twice—and crunch the numbers—before getting this type of loan.

Depending on the rules in your province, payday lenders can charge fees of $15 to $25 per $100 that you borrow.

As an example, let’s say you borrow $300 for home repairs. The payday lender charges you $51 in fees, or $17 for every $100 borrowed. Your loan balance is therefore $351, which amounts to an interest rate of 442 per cent.

There can be serious consequences if you don’t repay your loan by the due date. These may include the following:

  • The payday lender may charge you a fee if there isn’t enough money in your account.
  • Your financial institution may also charge you a fee if there isn’t enough money in your account.
  • The total amount that you owe, including the fees, continues to increase.

There are better options out there

Payday loans should be your last resort to borrow money. Consider cheaper ways of borrowing money, such as:

  • Cashing in vacation days or asking for a pay advance from your employer.
  • Getting a line of credit, a cash advance on a credit card or a personal loan from your financial institution.
  • Getting a loan from family or friends.

Before getting a payday loan and to avoid getting stuck in a debt trap, consider other, less expensive ways to borrow money.

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