An update on Chicagoland Property Group’s spam-family Walker

by Joe Zekas on 4/4/14

In the coming months we’ll be continuing our efforts to make it easier for you to identify and avoid some of Craiglist’s worst apartment ad spammers. We’ll call them out by company and individual names and build a reference list.

On Monday we questioned whether the more than 4,500 ads placed by Chicagoland Property Group (CPG) made it one of Chicago’s worst Craigslist apartment ad spammers. CPG’s Collin Walker’s name was in 675 of those 4,500 ads.

Tip: Add the following string to any apartment search you’re performing at Craigslist and you won’t see any of CPG’s ads in your results: – “Chicagoland Property Group”

We noted yesterday that Walker’s Channahon-based mom, dad and brother held 120-day leasing agent permits at his firm and that mom Joi and brother Kellen were also spamming Craigslist. Dad Jim had posted only a single Craigslist ad and it’s no longer online. Good dad.

Kellen had taken a break from spamming since Tuesday, but resumed in the late evening yesterday. Setting a new pace for Walker-family spambots, Kellen fired off 15 ads within the span of a few hours for a Jr 1-bedroom at 100 West Chestnut – a property that’s not in the Gold Coast or the Loop. Several of the ads tout a rent amount $100s of dollars below what’s actually available at the property. No Convertibles (Jr 1-bedrooms) were available as of yesterday evening. The floor plan shown in Kellen’s ads is a 1-bedroom.

As of yesterday evening Joi was continuing to spam Craigslist and pirate copyrighted images, but at a slower pace. She indicated to me in a phone call Wednesday that she was aware that her ads were in violation of Craigslist’s rules.

Added 4/4/14, 8:30 am: Mom Joi has leapt to a wide early lead in the Walker family’s Friday spam-fest, adding 55 slices of spam at Craigslist as of 8:30 this morning and disappointing anyone who thought a former small-town school teacher would have higher ethical standards.

Collin Walker continues to spam Craigslist in bulk, adding nearly 150 repetitive ads yesterday. He continues to run ads with pirated copyrighted images. He continues to advertise properties without the written authorization that Illinois law requires.

Let’s talk a closer look at a set of Collin Walker’s spam for a single unit at a single property to give you a clearer picture of how deeply deceptive many (if not all) of his ads are.

The property advertised in these 8 ads is SoNo East, 840 W Blackhawk St. SoNo East is not, as Walker’s ads claim, in Lincoln Park and it’s not in Old Town. It is, as one of the ads claims, “the areas (sic) best full amenity building …” – but only because it’s the only full-amenity building within about ¾ of a mile.

The floor plan illustrated in these ads is the M plan at SoNo East. It’s 752 square feet, not the 765, 785 or 786 variously stated in the ads. The square footage difference could theoretically be accounted for by including the balcony, but that’s not explained if it’s the case, and it’s not a standard way of presenting square footage.

The ads invite you to “Reserve a unit today,” tell you “this unit is available for a 12-month lease” or claim that you can “Reserve a unit for any summertime move-in.”

The earliest an M unit is available is June 19, and the price is slightly higher than the ads state for a move-in on that date. The price difference is small enough to be attributable to the near real-time pricing algorithms used by SoNo East and other buildings. If you want to move into a 1-bedroom at SoNo East before June 19, available units will cost you $100s of dollars more for a 12-month lease. SoNo East charges a $110 monthly utility fee, in addition to rent, for the M unit.

The ads report “utterly breathtaking views from this brand new 1 Bed…” SoNo East does have some terrific views – but not from the second-floor unit that’s the only M plan available between now and July 1. The unit itself is very nice but it’s neither “stunning” or “quite spectacular” as one of the ads describes it.

My opinion: these are clearly bait-and-switch ads, since very few renters are looking today for a unit that won’t be available until June 19. Any more innocent explanation would make Collin Walker either ignorant or utterly lazy or careless – or all three.

You can see near real-time availability and rent information at SoNo East’s website. You can also apply online and, according to the building’s website, find out in seconds whether you qualify for the apartment you select. You’ll be charged $500, $50 for the application fee and the $450 move-in fee. The $450 move-in fee is refunded if you’re not approved for the apartment.

You can find almost all of the properties in CPG’s spam collection – and quite a few more – at YoChicago’s at-a-glance apartment lists. Many of the properties on our lists have near real-time availability checks that will let you know what’s available when and for how much and will give you far more accurate information than you’ll find in CPG ads.

Chicagoland Property Group has been in business for more than 4 years and Collin Walker has held various real estate licenses since 2008. He’s currently licensed as a Managing Broker.

Our Monday post and the listing we created for CPG at Yelp elicited glowing reviews. Three of the 7 reviews at Yelp have been filtered as suspicious. All of them strike me as questionable in light of their timing, their vagueness, their wording and the thin history all of the reviewers have at Yelp.

Real estate agents who’ve been around as long as Collin Walker has and who’ve had any genuine success typically get the great majority of their business from repeat clients and from referrals. They don’t spam Craigslist in volume on a daily basis.

Very few among you will respond to email spam. Why would you respond to Craigslist spam?

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