Alleged Review Ruse By Roomster Gets Busted by FTC and AGs

  • The FTC and a bipartisan group of six AGs have secured a proposed order banning the rental listing platform Roomster and its owners (collectively “Roomster”), from buying or incentivizing reviews.
  • The proposed order will permanently ban Roomster from paying or otherwise providing incentives for consumer reviews, and from using or disseminating reviews where they have a relationship with the reviewer that might affect the review’s weight or credibility. Additionally, the order includes a monetary judgement in the amount of $36.2 million and civil penalties totaling $10.9 million payable to the states which will be suspended after Roomster and its owners pay $1.6 million to the six states.
  • The order further mandates that Roomster monitor all marketing materials used by affiliate marketers on at least a monthly basis, promptly investigate consumer complaints about affiliates; provide refunds to consumers impacted by affiliate misconduct that violates the order; and halting payments and terminating affiliates who pose as consumers or misrepresent their status in other ways.
  • As previously reported, it was alleged that Roomster violated §5(A) of the FTC Act and state statutes by hosting thousands of false reviews relating to properties listed on its site.