What do you do when you are beautiful and daddy has more money than he knows what to do with? You help dear old dad scam other people out of their life savings, of course. Proving that the apple truly doesn’t fall far from the tree, Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, seems to have done just that.
According to the LA Times, back in 2006 Trump “licensed his name” to developers who were promising to build condo towers in Baja. Trump Ocean Resort was supposed to cover 17 acres of oceanfront property on bluffs 10 miles south of the U.S. border. The 525 condos cost $275,000 to $3 million and buyers were required to make a 30% deposit in several installments. In all, those shit developers took more than $32 million in buyer deposits from about 250 hard-working people who put their life savings into a resort that never ended up being built.
Stephenee Simms, then an aerospace purchasing agent living in Canoga Park, said she spent her entire life savings on the $50,000 deposit for a one-bedroom overlooking the Pacific.
The sales team gave her a book, bound in blue suede, describing a resort where residents ‘relax by the infinity-edge pool, margarita in hand, as the cabana boy brings fresh towels.’
It featured Trump, shown smiling in a French gold-leaf chair, telling readers that no words or pictures ‘can possibly describe what is about to take shape here, but it is certainly going to be the most spectacular place in all of Mexico.’”
Sandra Sapol, of Carlsbad, told a similar story. “We were conned out of $140,000 in cash,” she said. “That was hard-earned money, down the drain,” she said.
Tony Brown and his wife Karen lost their $170,000 deposit. They said that Trump’s name had been a “security blanket” to them. “When we found out later it was just a branding scheme, whatever confidence we had in his ability to take a project and bring it to fruition went out the window,” Brown said.
Most of the buyers sued Trump for fraud. Simms, Sapol, and Brown did not join the suit though because they simply had no more money left to lose and were unable to pay the upfront fee to the attorneys. Trump settled out of court but has refused to admit any wrongdoing. Trump claims that he and his children were not the actual developers of the project, and therefore hold no responsibility. But that is a far cry from what they told buyers when they were taking their money for a pipe dream that would never come to fruition.
The LA Times reports:
As the Trumps and their partners promoted the condos with sleek brochures and what they called “VIP” cocktail receptions in San Diego County, they often left the impression — or said outright — that Trump was one of the developers. Their marketing team determined that the Trump name was the No. 1 draw for buyers, according to documents that surfaced in the lawsuit.
“We are developing a world-class resort befitting of the Trump brand,” Ivanka Trump said in a video on the Trump Baja website. “I’m very excited about it. I actually chose to buy a unit in the first tower.”
Her father appeared in the same video saying he was proud “that when I build, I have investors that follow me all over.”
“They invest in what I build, and that’s why I’m so excited about Trump Ocean resort,” he said.
Simms and Sapol both attended a VIP party for buyers where Ivanka mingled with guests, claiming that she had purchased a unit in the building. “She was joking around that she was my upstairs neighbor, and she could borrow sugar from me,” Simms recalled.
Her brother, Donald Trump Jr., did much the same thing shortly afterward. A Trump Baja newsletter, which was sent out by the sales team to those who had already put down deposits, claimed that he “flew in from New York to purchase a suite at the event and meet with fellow buyers.” Court documents prove this claim was bullshit.
Another newsletter sent to condo buyers in July 2007 also stated that the resort was being “developed by one of the most respected names in real estate, Donald J. Trump.”
In August of 2007, Trump personally signed a newsletter that went out to condo buyers which named him as one of the developers.
It was on the letterhead of P.B. Impulsores, the Mexican company named in unit purchase documents as the resort developer.
The letter, co-signed by Jason Grosfeld of Irongate, urged buyers to read an attached “Frequently Asked Questions” sheet about the project. This time, Trump and Irongate were listed as the developers.
“When the project went south, no one from the Trump organization even contacted us to take responsibility,” Sapol said. “We were misled — all the marketing materials, the brochures, the name of the building, the fact that Trump’s daughter was at the event, saying she and her brother bought units.”
What did Ivanka have to say? Not much.
Ivanka Trump later told CBS News that her family had “lived up to our obligation under a license agreement.”
“We were never the developer of this project, and that was made clear,” she said. “We never took anyone’s deposit.”
Trump, she said, was just the brand. “I am sorry for everyone, but we are in the same boat,” she said
They are in the same boat folks. They only got half a million dollars in licensing fees while everybody else lost everything. It’s exactly the same thing, why do you ask?
Featured image via Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images