News from OAR: Potential Scam Complaint Site Targeting Ohio Agents
The Ohio Association of REALTORS (OAR) shared the following information regarding a potential scam targeting agents in Ohio.
“REALTORS across Ohio and the nation are being targeted in suspicious emails that offer assistance in having their name removed from a listing of consumer complaints in exchange for money.
The emails refer to a website — Realtor-complaints.com — that purportedly publishes public consumer complaints about real estate agents. The emails let agents know that they have the “opportunity” to have their name and any complaints removed from the site by paying a $99 fee. (NOTE: we’re not providing a direct link to the website, as it currently does not appear on the first page of a Google search. OAR and NAR do not want to drive traffic and increase the site’s positioning.)
OAR Legal Counsel Peg Ritenour said multiple agents in Cincinnati received the following email, with the subject line “Listing my home for sale.” The email is sent to the agent from an @yahoomailer.com account:
My daughter’s friend hired your agency a couple months ago (and I believe you as the realtor). Her home sold very quickly and I’m interested in hiring you to list our home as well.
Would you mind sending me a couple references from past clients of yours? The only concern I have is this bad review I found on realtor complaints..
(It includes a direct link to the realtor-complaint.com site)
I look forward to hearing back from you,
Ritenour said NAR’s attorneys are aware of the site and are investigating possible action. It appears that the site is being operated outside of the United States, which may make it difficult to pursue appropriate legal action. Because payment of the fee is made through PayPal, NAR has filed a complaint with its fraud services department.
“It’s very unlikely that a legitimate website would offer you the ability to remove a ‘complaint’ in exchange for payment of money,” Ritenour said. “REALTORS should exercise caution if they are contacted and before paying any money to this site.”
Click here to access a recent NAR blog post.”
Source: Carl Horst, Ohio Association of REALTORS
UPDATE: The National Association of REALTORS(R) is reporting that the scam complaint website has been shutdown. According to the article, “The Web site was misusing the REALTOR® trademark, posting false complaints about real estate practitioners, and demanding money to have the complaints removed from the site.”