WASHINGTON, DC (WWLP) – The attorneys general of New York, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, and Massachusetts, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have filed a lawsuit against rental listing platform Roomster Corp. and its owners John Shriber and Roman Zaks.
Court documents outline the allegations that Roomster posted fake positive reviews and falsely claimed that their listings were real, available, and verified in an effort to get people to use its platform. The FTC and states also took action against “AppWinn” operator Jonathan Martinez, who the complaint alleges supplied tens of thousands of fake four and five star reviews to Roomster.
The court filing also alleges that the defendants took advantage of low income people in need of housing.
Read the court complaint here:
In addition to cooperating with the FTC in its ongoing case against Roomster, Martinez, as part of the proposed stipulated final order with the FTC and the states,is also required to:
- Notify the app stores: He must notify the Apple and Google app stores that Roomster paid him for posting reviews on each platform and must identify the fake reviews and approximate times they were posted;
- Stop selling reviews: Martinez will be permanently banned from selling or misrepresenting consumer reviews or endorsements;
- Pay $100,000: Martinez must pay a total of $100,000 to the FTC’s six state partners: New York, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, and Massachusetts.
The Commission voted 5-0 to authorize the staff to file the complaint against Roomster and the three individual defendants and the stipulated final order against Martinez. The complaint and stipulated final order were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.