Do Live Here Chicago’s fraudulent Yelp reviews doom its employees?

by Joe Zekas on 3/24/14

A little over a year ago we questioned whether Urban Lux, a rental service on our do-not-call list, was responsible for the dumbest-ever reviews at Yelp. Several days ago a commenter responded with the following:

… you should see the recent reviews for Live Here Chicago. All posted by employees of Live Here Chicago. Andy R. is the listing agent, Kristin K is processing agent.

The commenter appeared to have some inside knowledge of the Andy R and Kristin K Yelp reviews in the above images, so we decided to take a closer look at the Yelp reviews for Live Here Chicago a/k/a Rent Here Realty.


Andy R’s profile at Yelp links to a Twitter account for Andy Snyder, which in turn links to a Facebook page for Andrew Michael.

A LinkedIn profile identifies Andrew Snyder as an employee of Rent Here Realty a/k/a Live Here Chicago. He was formerly employed at Apartment Savvy, another member of our do-not-call list.

The trail to Kristin K isn’t as transparent as the one to Andy R a/k/a Andrew Snyder a/k/a Andrew Michael, but her Yelp review reeks of dishonesty. Would a consumer really write that Live Here Chicago has “great relationships with the best landlords in Chicago?” How would they know?


Andy R a/k/a Andrew Snyder a/k/a Andrew Michael has a Facebook friend named Kristin Kolehouse who’s employed at Rent Here Realty a/k/a Live Here Chicago. If our commenter had it right, this would be the Kristin K who posted the Yelp review at the top of this post.

Rent Here Realty a/k/a Live Here Chicago has been on our rental service do-not-call list since we first published it just over three years ago. The company earned that position, as have many others on the list, by advertising properties without legally required authorizations, by employing unlicensed agents and by Yelp reviews that didn’t appear to have the ring of truth about them.

It’s possible, but highly unlikely, that someone set out to harm Andrew Snyder and Kristin Kolehouse by masquerading as them on Yelp. There doesn’t appear to be any reason to give them the benefit of the doubt. That’s true, in my opinion, even if they insist – as they should – that Yelp remove the reviews.

Is it even remotely possible that the Andy R’s and Kristin K’s of the world don’t realize how many laws they’re violating by their dishonest Yelp reviews? Is it possible that Live Here Chicago a/k/a Rent Here Realty is unaware of these reviews? How corrupt does a company have to be to allow these reviews to remain online?

How stupid are the Andy R’s and Kristin K’s if they’re unaware that many employers will Google them, see their dishonesty and never hire them as a result? I know I’d never even consider hiring anyone who remained employed at Live Here Chicago for any length of time, and I’m confident I’m not alone in that approach.

The folks who write or solicit phony reviews at Yelp and other websites are living in a make-believe world if they think that there isn’t an efficient mechanism to punish their behavior. There is. Its name is Google, and short-sighted actions designed to produce positive results will often have long-lasting and more consequential negative ones. Omar Khayyam had it right nearly a millennium ago:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike March 24, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Is it possible that although they work there, they also have used the service? I mean, I work at a restaurant and I love their food. I would write good things about my place to help out the business but that doesn’t mean it’s fraudulent or untrue.

Reply

Joe Zekas March 24, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Mike,

It’s possible, but irrelevant to the question of deceit and illegality.

Their conduct would still violate Federal Trade Commission rules on endorsements since they didn’t disclose their employment relationship. It also violates Yelp’s terms of service.

Write a review of your restaurant at Yelp, disclosing that you work there, and see what happens.

Reply

Adam March 27, 2014 at 9:16 PM

Joe-What are your thoughts on the managing broker allowing or ecnouraging employees to post fake reviews on yelp?

Reply

Joe Zekas March 27, 2014 at 10:07 PM

Adam,

If Illinois enforced its laws, that would be grounds for substantial civil penalties and license revocation.

Anyone working for a company that encourages or tolerates fake reviews is tarnished by being associated with it, whether they do it themselves or don’t insist that it be removed.

If you see fake reviews being encouraged or tolerated, you can be certain far more severe illegality is taking place in the company that you don’t see. If you think any managing broker who does this isn’t routinely lying to you then you either haven’t lived long enough or didn’t understand much of what you saw.

If you see agents working beyond the 120-day period without seeing their license hanging on the wall, congratulations, you’re working with criminals.

If you’re asked to post ads for properties, ask to see the company’s written authorization to post those ads. You’re responsible for the ads and if you don’t check – well, hopefully you’ll get blindsided by losing your license.

Reply

jeremy June 23, 2014 at 6:12 PM

This is 100% valid. I used to work here and the owner would ask us to post fake reviews or if we had any friends and family that would be willing to do so as well.

Reply

Joe Zekas June 23, 2014 at 6:53 PM

Your email address seems to indicate that you work at Homescout Realty, another company that has many suspicious reviews.

Did you participate in the phony reviews? Is your comment here just another one of them?

Are you the same person who posted this review of Live Here at Yelp?

Reply

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