Tom Vu would present himself in his late-night infomercials as an oasis of mansions, yachts, expensive cars, and barely-clad models in order to convince viewers they could learn the secrets to making millions in real estate by attending his 90-minute seminars.
But 14 former students have sued him, alleging violations of securities laws and fraud. Their attorney faces an immense task ahead.
Early Life and Education
Vu, who performs in ballrooms from Orlando to Montreal, claims he and his family fled South Vietnam as refugees after communist takeover in 1975 and found refuge here as refugees in America where he and his wife raised children while working as real estate investors.
He now teaches people how to identify distressed real estate and purchase it with no upfront cash payment, using foreclosures, bankruptcies, divorces and tax liens as leverage. Vu’s students -who spend up to $23,000 for his seminar- are then encouraged to purchase houses that could potentially be flipped for profit after receiving makeovers or rent-to-own deals from him; then Vu instructs them on “flipping.” But this task can be tricky and not always successful!
Tuan Anh Vu, better known by his stage name Tom Vu or Tommy, was a Vietnamese American poker player and real estate investor who rose to prominence during the late 1980s and early 1990s through infomercial roles on TV shows like Infomercials Plus! and Infomercial Live!.
Vu promised viewers in his late-night infomercials that attending his free 90-minute seminar would enable them to discover the same secrets he used to make millions, such as how to purchase property at fraction of its actual worth through foreclosures, bankruptcies, divorces and tax liens.
Vu embodied the typical story of rags-to-riches found within infomercial era through his modest home office, mustache and button-up blue shirt attire. However, his gentle countenance and limited understanding of English idiom made him more endearing than other fast-talking infomercial pitchmen such as William McCorkle or Don Lapre.
Achievement and Honors
Vu has become an infomercial sensation with his amazing tales of purchasing distressed properties at auction and flipping them for huge profits. He boasts of buying property across states like California, Texas and Florida at prices far below their true values.
But several former students of Vu have stated that his seminars are nothing but scams, with them alleging he has broken promises to help students find deals or invest together as partners in property investments.
Vu is known to be generous despite his struggles, having donated bulletproof vests to police and homes to low-income housing projects. In addition, he sponsors children in Mexico, Bangladesh, and elsewhere through Save the Children organization; furthermore he developed the stately community Sweetwater Club in Longwood.
He is both an active real estate investor and world-class poker player, having participated in some of the major world tournaments and earning numerous awards and recognition for his skills on the felt.
Vu’s late-night infomercials showcased luxurious products like mansions and yachts as well as many bikini-clad women in his early morning infomercials.
His sales pitch was that anyone could make money off his real estate advice, including those with debts or tax liens on their properties who could sell it back for less than it was worth.
His up-from-poverty success story resonated with viewers. Additionally, his credible salesmanship distinguished him from some of the other fast-talking infomercials. However, not everyone found success using his system and many former students sued him in the 1990s alleging violations of securities law and fraud.
Vu promised in his infomercials that there are real estate bargains waiting to be discovered; his key strategy? Identify distressed property such as foreclosures, bankruptcies, divorces and tax liens then purchase these properties cheap. With his advice in hand, he claimed you could make significant returns.
Vu portrayed himself as the ideal real estate guru, living a luxurious life of mansions, yachts and Rolls Royces. Many of his former students bought into his investment techniques despite paying $8,800 tuition – only two homes ended up showing any tangible returns from this costly education.
Tuan Anh Vu, popularly known as Tommy and Tom Vu, was an iconic Vietnamese American poker player and real estate investor during the late 1980s who also gained notoriety through infomercial appearances.