Unpacking the Misleading World of Internet

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 25, 2016: United States Federal Trade Commission building in Washington, DC

While we cannot ignore all what human beings are capable of doing, we also cannot just overlook our tendency to make a mistake. The latter element has, in fact, popped up on the surface quite few times throughout our history, with each of the stated appearances forcing us look for a defensive cover. To the world’s credit, we’ll find the most sensible answer to our conundrum by bringing dedicated regulatory bodies into the fold. The move made so much sense because having a well-defined authority across each and every area instantly concealed a lot of our shortcomings, therefore giving us a chance at certain possibilities that we could have never imagined otherwise. However, the whole utopia dropped dead before we could even realize those possibilities, and if we get into the reasons, we can easily notice how it was all technology’s fault. You see, the moment technology got its layered nature to take over the spectrum; it bestowed people with an unprecedented chance to exploit others for their own benefit. In case this wasn’t devastating enough, the scale on which the said runner ended up materializing will expectantly overwhelm our governing forces and send them back to the drawing board. Fortunately, though, the dynamics will change again. If anything, the traces of that shift have grown more and more evident over the recent past, and a newly-filed lawsuit should only solidify them moving forward.

The Federal Trade Commission, along with six other US states, have officially filed a lawsuit against  John Shriber and Roman Zaks, owners of the room renting and roommate finder platform, Roomster, for allegedly committing consumer fraud. According to certain reports, the platform acquired “tens of thousands of fake positive reviews to bolster their false claims that properties listed on their Roomster platform are real, available, and verified.” Further details go on to talk about how Roomster would post fake listings on Craigslist to drive traffic to its platform. The platform would then round off the con by charging anyone a fee who inquired for information on the listings that didn’t exist. This fake listings’ business became pretty clear when FTC, on one occasion, learned how “the company immediately accepted and published a fake listing for a fictional apartment at the same address as a U.S. Post Office commercial facility.”

Interestingly enough, Roomster wasn’t the only one involved in this fraud, as Jonathan Martinez, who runs a site called AppWinn, was the person who provided the platform with a host of fake reviews. Martinez, however, has already signed a proposed settlement in regards to his involvement. Alongside his cooperation, he’ll also pay a $100,000 fine, which will go towards the six states that played a part in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit against Roomster signals a wider crackdown on online platforms that are defrauding consumers in one way or the other. Just a few months ago, FTC had fined online clothing retailer, Fashion Nova, $4.2 million for a similar attempt at misleading their customers, but there is literally no reason to believe that these companies will the last ones to feel the heat.


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