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Trump Fans Place Their Bets on Iraqi Dinar Scam

President Donald Trump addresses the crowd at a rally. (Evan Vucci / AP)

Donald Trump has a long history of endorsing get-rich-quick schemes and encouraging Americans to get involved. On “Celebrity Apprentice,” he featured ACN Inc., a multilevel marketing firm best known for selling a video phone. ACN was in trouble with regulators in three countries for exaggerating its sales numbers and making false promises to those hoping to make a profit by selling the phones to their friends, family and local community. He also had promised attendees of Trump University they would learn “the secrets of success” in real estate, if they only paid him thousands of dollars.

Controversies and lawsuits involving such endeavors have not stopped the president from finding new marketing opportunities. This time, Trump has set his sights on the dinar, the Iraqi currency.

That currency, as Will Sommer writes in The Daily Beast, is almost worthless outside of Iraq, but that didn’t stop Trump from singing its praises during a 2017 news conference. “In the clip,” Sommer explains, “Trump says, with characteristic vagueness, that all currencies will soon ‘be on a level playing field.’ ”

Trump had been talking about trade imbalances with China, but many of his excited supporters took his “rambling speech as proof that the Iraqi dinar would soon be worth as much or even more than the dollar, making anyone who had been smart enough to buy in early a millionaire,” Sommer writes.

Hayes Kotseos, who runs a North Carolina pool-maintenance company, is one such true believer. Kotseos told Sommer that she and her husband spent from $5,000 to $10,000 on dinars. Her adult children bought them too.

Their hope, as described to Sommer, is that “Trump and the Iraqi government will somehow ‘revalue’ or ‘RV’ the currency, boosting its current value of less than $0.001 to $3 or $4.”

Promoters have been claiming “that near-mythical event will occur for nearly a decade,” the article continues. “But if it does it would theoretically make a millionaire of anyone with the foresight to put just a few thousand dollars into dinars.”

Trump may be the latest person promoting the idea the dinar has a latent wealth, but he’s not the first. “The rumored wealth surrounding the dinar dates back to its pre-Gulf War price,” Sommer points out, “when each dinar was more than $3. But sanctions and years of war have pummeled its value to less than one-tenth of one U.S. penny … the long-awaited ‘RV’ never seems to come.”

In 2015, rumors started to spread that Trump himself had invested in the dinar (there’s no evidence, according to The Daily Beast, that he has). The rumors spawned a variety of widely read hoax articles, according to data from Google Trends. Current dinar investors like the Kotseoses are also drawn in by people like Kim Clement, “a South African ‘prophet’ whose fans believe predicted Trump’s election. Before his death in 2016, Clement also often mentioned a dinar revaluation.”

On Twitter and YouTube, videos, threads and comment sections are filled with pleas for help from Trump to speed up the RV.

Financial experts and lawyers are not so convinced. The dinar scheme, says attorney Jay Addison, is “a study in stupidity.”

Sommer adds that Addison carefully monitored the situation, watching “for six years as dinar believers’ hopes for a revaluation failed to materialize. After writing a 2012 blog post about why the dinar was a bad investment, Addison heard from dinar investors who insisted the RV was about to occur. Six years later, it still hasn’t happened.”

There’s also been fraud:

In October, the owners of a Georgia-based dinar reseller that made $600 million selling the dinar and other currencies were convicted of fraud for misleading investors about the dinar’s chances to gain value.

Their scheme, according to prosecutors, included paying off a dinar “guru” to tell his fans in chat rooms and conference calls that he had high-level sources in American and Iraqi government and international financial institutions who were sure a revaluation was imminent.

Kotseos remains undaunted, telling Sommers that her family can afford to take the risk, and “she’s convinced that she’ll be able to resell her dinar and at least recover a majority of her investment.”

Read the full article here.

Ilana Novick
Blogger / Editorial Assistant

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