When searching for a place to live — or a person to live with — honest and trustworthy information is vital. And reviews about platforms that can supposedly help you in your search should be, well, honest and trustworthy too. But according to the FTC and six states suing Roomster and its owners, the room and roommate finder platform posted reviews and other information that was neither.
The lawsuit announced today alleges Roomster posted fake positive reviews and made deceptive claims about its listings being real, available, and verified — to convince people to use its platform. The FTC and states also announced an action against “AppWinn” operator Jonathan Martinez, who the complaint alleges supplied thousands of the fake reviews to Roomster.
When a company has a lot of fake, glowing reviews online, they can dilute real ones that describe customers’ actual experiences. This can make it tough for people to make informed decisions about which products or services to buy and use. Here, Roomster’s customers — mostly students, people with lower incomes, and those living in areas with little affordable housing — have ended up paying millions of dollars for information on rentals that often didn’t even exist.
So if you’re looking at online reviews for housing or anything else:
- Think about the source of the reviews you’re reading. What do you know about the reviewers that makes them trustworthy?
- Compare reviews from a variety of well-known sources, not just one site. Start with websites recognized for having credible and impartial reviews.
- Search online for the company name along with terms like “complaint,” “scam,” or “fraud” to see what issues others might have had.
If a company makes false or misleading claims, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.
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Very good advice
I hope you will update readers with the results of the legal action, and also if people who paid for the service receive refunds.
In reply to I hope you will update… by Beth H
Wouldn't that be grand! I'm looking forward to finding out what happens.
if these people are prosecuted ( and they sure better be) , their trials/ sentences should be publicized as a deterrent to the thousands of scammers who think this kind of thing is just a game and has no consequences! we have become a world of cheats and it won't stop until the punishments are widely publicized!
In reply to if these people are… by c b hamaker
You are correct. The world we live in today is one bid scam, cheat. People just do not know who to trust anymore .
This whole world is one big lie anymore
Thank all yall for your work. We the public think yall do one heck of a job. These TV adds are on the line of falsehood. Have a great day.
these people that do this mean and bad things should be held very liable for all these things that they do
If the FTC were to go after all those online making false or misleading claims, they would have to hire a much larger staff...just saying.
Thanks bunches for doing something about this practice. I'm trying to find better places to get on waiting lists for housing. I tried a few sites and apps with poor results. People claimed to have excellent results though. I now check reviews from lowest to highest for everything!
Enjoy each marvelous day now! If y'all woke up breathing you're having one. Should you not believe it, try getting an attitude transplant.🤔🤭🖖
Can't agree more with C B Hamaker. Publicize this and make it known these fraudsters will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the Law. Thank you FTC for the wonderful job you are doing to help us all.
Roomster is just a needle in a haystack. It happens all the time. Like for example a local auto repair shop offers Amazon gift card for posting a glowing review. Apartment buildings have their employees posing as tenants to post good reviews, most of these sing songs about the rental agents but not about apartments for the obvious reason. And don't even get me started with Amazon. I purchased some junk on the river, it came with an offer of a gift card for a good review; I didn't do it. There are literally tons of FB groups promising gift cards for posting sellers reviews. I can go on and on but will wrap up for now.