Late Friday the Illinois Attorney General’s office announced the formation of an inter-agency task force to combat what AG Lisa Madigan referred to as “an unprecedented crime wave by Chicago-based so-called apartment finders.”
According to a news release issued by the AG’s office, the task force will include representatives from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, the Federal Trade Commission, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Consumer Fraud Unit, the newly-created US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the US Attorney’s Office.
“The rental services industry in Chicago operates in a wholly lawless fashion,” said AG Lisa Madigan, “committing tens of thousands of cyber-crimes daily in the form of fraudulent ads on Craigslist, and false postings on Yelp, Facebook and other online venues. Rental services routinely employ unlicensed staff, placing consumers at risk of exposure to predators.”
The task force will assist the short-staffed Attorney General’s office in marshaling the evidence necessary to initiate criminal prosecutions of firms and individuals in Chicago’s rental services industry.
“Many of the young people working as apartment finders don’t understand the seriousness of their actions, and many of their employers hold the law in contempt,” said a spokesperson for the AG’s office. “Jail time will give them an opportunity to reflect on their behavior.”