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Fake Complaint Site Now Dormant

It didn’t take long once the pressure was on to shut down Realtor-complaints.com. 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.

On Jan. 10, I wrote a post about the site and more than two dozen readers responded. Many recounted their stories of finding their name on Realtor-complaints.com and being asked to pay to have the complaint removed. NAR and many state associations were working in concert to end the misuse of the trademark. Yesterday, a page appeared indicating that the site had been sold and that it would be re-launching May 1. Today, the site is simply a page of links operated by one of the advertising sites.

The WHOIS record indicates that the site is suspended.  “That is encouraging,” says National Association of REALTORS® attorney Mike Thiel, “but we are trying to find out what that means going forward.”

One thing’s for sure: The closure of Realtor-complaints.com isn’t the end of such Internet scams. My Jan. 10 post included simple steps you can take to manage your own reputation online. But there’s one step you should never have to take: paying money to have false information removed from a site.

Stacey Moncrieff

Stacey is vice president of business-to-business communications for the National Association of REALTORS®, overseeing the association's key communications with NAR members and REALTOR® association executives.

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Comments
  1. Great job to all involved to get this site down! While these types of scams will always be out there in cyberspace, NAR and it’s members showed that by standing together and getting the word out, scammers have not much to gain and much more to lose by creating sites like this one. Zillow, Trulia, and Activerain were awesome forums to communicate and expose this fraud.

  2. Bryan Tunney

    Thank you for getting the site down. Well done!!

  3. Jeffrey Dochen

    I still have a question. What is the name of the person or (person’s) who is responsible for the website?

    I would like to know the name and address, please.

  4. Linda Greenwell

    Thank you. Our dues we well spent. Great job!

  5. I just pulled up that site and it is operating!

  6. Tim Williamson

    Jeffrey, I had gone to the Whois listing when it first appeared and it looked like the registar was in Panama. Typically these characters are very clever at hiding their identity and many times outside of jurisdictions. Add in the the shear volume of these types of scams and how fast they hit and it makes it impossible for authorities to police.

  7. There are so many scams praying on REALTORS(r) right now that I feel we must have a way to alert others to avoid the pitfalls. For example, some BPO companies are not placing orders with REALTORS(R) and not paying for that work. Being an independent business person I have little or no time/money to chase after this company in another state. An alert by other REALTORS(r) would have made me aware of this scam.

  8. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! Great News!

  9. This site is STILL up — I just clicked on it and gained access.

  10. mike

    The website is now operating under realtorcomplains.com.

  11. Ed

    There needs to be a broad internet site to post complaints on Realtors and for good reason. For example I recently lost a bid on a house that turned out to be higher than the eventually accepted offer. This has happened to me as well as others in my area. Quite frankly there is no arms length transparency on what the listen agents do and untill there is nothing will change.
    By the way I might add that a Realtor bought that property I mentioned.

  12. Michael

    Stacey:

    Thanks, now that NAR got this site removed its time for NAR to get http://www.neighborcity.com removed. It is full of inaccurate information on real estate agents and Realtors and it ranks them based on the performance of this inaccurate information. NAR please help.

  13. Stacey here. I wanted to let you know that NAR is currently involved in litigation with the operators of the neighborcity.com Web site. NAR’s attorneys can’t talk about the case and will say only, “It is now up to the court to resolve the issues.”

  14. Bruce Shivley

    It’s wonderful the NAR was able to have the site taken down but what do we realtors do if our names still appear in a Google search linked to the closed site? Searchers who aren’t aware of the scam see the phony post in the search and bypass that realtor. This is not good.

  15. Bruce Shivley

    Just found another site. http://www.agent-ratings.com, also based in Panama. As an NAR broker-realtor who was always professional, courteous, knowledgeable, and client-oriented, this is really objectionable. What can we do?

  16. Tati

    I also found this site http://www.agent-ratings.com with several fake reviews about me displaying my current emails address and asking for $$ in order to remove it.

  17. Theresa J Murphy

    I too have been notified by email from http://www.agent-ratings.com
    stating that I have had 6 ratings posted about me and my overall rating is an F
    but if I join for only $99.00 see who posted about me and respond to them to resolve and improve my rating. as a bonus if you join you will receive a perfect A rating for life, remove all negative ratings etc. what a scam.
    I will be contacting NAR, CAR, and my Broker

  18. Mark Bick

    http://www.agent-ratings.com Sent me an email as well giving me negative reviews. NAR please take this site down too! Here is their contact info from the website. Very Fraudulent.

    Agent-Ratings.com
    Help@Agent-Ratings.com
    Corporate Offices:
    704 C Apartado 0823-04294
    Panama City
    Republic of Panama
    (0)265 7958

  19. Marcus

    Also, Century 21 banner ads are running on this fraudulent site. Someone needs to get in touch with the advertising department at Century 21 so that they block their ads from appearing on agent-ratings.com. This criminal site is getting compensated by Century 21 for the banner advertising.

  20. Marc

    NAR attorneys listen up! There is no need to shut down the site. You need to contact google(only search engine shows the result) and ask them to remove this site from their search. Very easy process, takes 10 minutes to fill out an online form and 48 hours for google to get back to you.

  21. I am disgusted at the negative reviews on this site dated 11/8/12. I have been inactive and not practicing for 2 yrs. Bor do I live anywhere near the town they have listed. This is a bogus site set up by someone who is not a profesdional.
    The NAR should nab these crooks out of Panama City in the Republic of Panama. It makes our entire profession look cheesy. This kind of activity and backstabbing is hurting NAR membership.

  22. I too am among the victims on http://www.agent-ratings.com with a score of an F. I am so sick and tired of the scams out there. I work so very hard to provide amazing service and maintain a good name in the industry and things like this are completely untrue and damaging. What can we do about this? I’m so frustrated…

  23. Marcus

    What is being done about http://www.agent-ratings.com? This is a serious matter. Thousands of agents are being blackmailed into paying to have these fake reviews removed and no one seems to care. This site is making thousands of dollars from desperate real estate agents paying to have there names removed from this site. I’ve contacted Century 21 and NetQuote regarding their banner ads running on this site and they have not gotten back to me. So now we have these two companies compensating this fraudulent site which is blackmailing the Realtor community.

  24. Michael Travis

    There is another site http://www.agent-ratings.com I would say C21 having a banner ad with this site is just as bad as the bogus reputation this site promotes against good agents who dont spend teir good money on bad sites. And to think they are charging $99 to make you an “A” rating is abusuve and unethical–but what can be done since it is based outside of this country.

  25. Carlos

    I cannot believe that this company is allowed to publish such a thing. I have reported them to IC3 as of this morning. I wish someone on the national board could help take some steps in having this site removed.

  26. The “agent-rating” site is very distressing. (The fact that C21 supports it through advertising is appalling). Unfortunately, taking the site down may be a bit more difficult than it was for the “realtor-complaints” site. Although it isn’t clear from Stacey’s original post, I imagine NAR and others sent a “take-down” notice to the ISP of the realtor-complaints site noting that they were contributing to trademark infringement. With respect to the “agent-rating” site, it doesn’t appear there is a trademark or copyright violation. However, it seems as though the site is engaged in widespread business defamation and tortious interference. The conduct may also likely constitute false advertising and unfair competition under the federal Lanham Act. (Because C21 and its agents compete with many of the defamed agents, they could be seen to benefit from the false information. I’m surprised C21′s attorneys would allow them to support the site.) I hope NAR will get aggressive and go after the site (and suggest C21 end its support.

  27. Dave Casey

    You are assuming that C21 is advertising with them and this may not be the case. These scammers may just be trying to add some legitimacy to their site by placing ads for C21 on the site, without C21 even knowing about it.

    As for paying them to remove a bad rating, folks, just don’t. It is quite easy to see that it is a scam and shouldn’t be fed by us Realtors. I saw my review on Realtor-complaints.com and yes, it was an F, with one review and a reply to that review. At first I was a little steamed about it, but then I did a little further checking and found that there were only about 10-15 reviews on this website and they were used over and over and over for all the agents on the site. Same reviews, same wording. Even the replies were used again and again. It was quite obvious that it was a bogus site and set up for one reason only, to separate real estate agents from their money.

    So, please pay attention to the signs at the entrance to the World Wide Web: PLEASE DON’T FEED THE SCAMMERS

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