NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - A company acting as an apartment broker on popular classifieds Web site Craigslist.org is in trouble with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who claims the company cheated 4,000 New Yorkers.
Cuomo said Thursday that Innovative Apartments and Screening Services, Inc., used bait-and-switch schemes to fraudulently gain nearly $1 million. Cuomo's undercover investigation resulted in criminal charges against the company.
"Craigslist.org can be a terrific asset for New Yorkers trying to navigate a difficult real estate market, but bait-and-switch schemes orchestrated by crooked apartment brokers can turn hunting for an apartment into a nightmare," Cuomo said.
"By aggressively prosecuting disingenuous online brokers, we can ensure New Yorkers don't waste their time and money by pursuing phony leads for apartments."
The company charged customers $200 for credit reports and background checks that were never conduct and advertised "exclusive" listings that were actually apartments that did not exist, Cuomo said.
Innovative also recycled other Craigslist ads and advertised apartments that required the payment of fees, Cuomo said. The company obtained more than $900,000 doing so, partly because requests for refunds were ignored or not fully satisfied, Cuomo added.
Charged are co-owners Nader Jaber and Igor Portnov, a.k.a. Bobby Portnov, and employees Brooke Corio and Boris Portnov, a.k.a. Brian Portnov.
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