Does Vesta Preferred prefer self-help on Yelp?

Yesterday’s post about Vesta Preferred’s misleading advice to renters elicited some anonymous testimonials for Greg Pekarsky, one of the firm’s principals, in our comments.

Pekarsky has been the subject of anonymous testimonials on Yelp since the dawn of his career at Homescout Realty. Some of those testimonials are clearly fraudulent, while the rest just lack the ring of truth.

On September 17, 2009, Yelper Jasmine C wrote a glowing 5-star review for Homescout Realty’s Pekarsky:

Work with Greg Pekarsky.

Greg helped me find the perfect apartment; not only did it fit my budget , it came with everything I asked for: heat included, less than 2 blocks from the L, pool, et cetera.

Homescout is great. Their listings are far superior and the agent I worked with was respectful and fantastic to deal with. Go with Homescout!

A month later, on October 17, Jasmine C trashed her purported new landlord, ICM Properties, with a 1-star review:

I’m hoping for your sake that you are reading these reviews BEFORE signing a lease. I did not have that luxury.

Rats, heater dying in the dead of winter, plumbing problems, and learning the hard way that lack of a security deposit is NOT a good thing. It just means the people before you did whatever the hell they wanted with the apartment. It shows.

Did ICM ever have apartments with a pool? It would be news to me. Was Jasmine C honest in either review?

Skip ahead, past a dozen reeking reviews from Pekarsky’s days at Homescout, to his tenure at Vesta Preferred and you come to Dan L’s 5-star production:

We bought our first house through Greg and Vesta Preferred. We couldn’t have asked for a better agent. Greg worked showed us over 50 homes before we found one we liked. He is also quite the negotiator. Greg knocked 20% off the asking price and stayed with us through the entire short sale ordeal (over 9 months). We recommend Greg to all of our friends and when the time comes, we will gladly use him again.

Thanks!

Dan L, whose hometown is Chicago, is quite the guy. He’s out with his girlfriend one day, a wife the next, then buys an engagement ring. He has kids who make a one-review cameo, never to be seen or hinted at again. Based in the Chicago area, Dan bounces around the country without explanation. He’s shopping at a Whole Foods in Orange, CT and visiting a chiropractor there while apparently living in Seattle. Although he has no disclosed connection to New Haven, CT, he reviews a dentist there:

I’ve been going to see Dr. Landa for almost a decade. He is a remarkable dentist who uses the latest techniques and technology and pays much attention to details. I highly recommend him for everything from a check-up to major work.

During the time that Pekarsky was at Homescout, we suggested that Homescout had unleashed legions of shills on Yelp. Homescout now has 48 reviews and 280 (!) filtered reviews at Yelp.

You can read the rest of the Yelp reviews for Vesta Preferred and judge for yourself whether any of them are credible. I don’t think any are. Ditto for the many reviews of Vesta Preferred agents at Zillow – some of which are repeated verbatim from Yelp, years after the original Yelp reviews.

It’s an ugly thing if the reviews are as phony as they appear to be, but Vesta Preferred puts an even uglier spin on them with this assertion on its About us page:

We are trusted by many and are the highest regarded company on Yelp.

When I read that I can’t help thinking that I’m being asked to trust someone because he’s a chronic liar.

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