June 17, 2018

Investigation of Scam Complaint Site Pays Off

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Investigation of Scam Complaint Site Pays Off

After an investigation by the National Association of REALTORS® and several state associations, the real estate complaint site accused of posting fake reviews and seeking payment to have those reviews deleted appears to have shut down.

REALTOR® Magazine Editor-in-Chief and Managing Director of NAR Publishing Stacey Moncrieff reported the investigation of on the Speaking of Real Estate blog earlier this month. The complaints featured on the site, registered on Jan. 1, 2013, were all of similar phrasing, which led to doubts over their authenticity. Furthermore, real estate professionals accused of wrongdoing on the site were subsequently contacted by site administrators and asked to pay to have their names removed from the site. Also, NAR had considered legal action to prevent the site from its continued improper use of the REALTOR® trademark.

"I was targeted by this exact scam just last week," commented blog reader and Seattle REALTOR® Alice Kuder. "I’ve been signed up with Google Alerts for a couple of years and it did not give me any indication this bogus complaint was out there. Such a shame that we have to be on our guard for this kind of attempted extortion."

RealtyTimes reported today that the site appears to have shut down completely, crediting the reporting and investigation of the national and state associations.

Controversies surrounding online reviews have made it into court recently, stemming even from most frequently used review sites. The lawsuit accusing Yelp of extortion of San Francisco business owners was dismissed back in 2011. But just last week Forbes reported on a suit filed by a construction company accusing a Virginia woman of posting a false review against the company on the same popular review site.

—Meg White, REALTOR® Magazine Daily News