Best Chicago con job?

Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, was recently quoted as calling the Internet a “cesspool” of false information.

I’ve been wading into the local real estate corner of that cesspool recently in connection with the launch of our NewHomeNotebook site, and the pool strikes me as pretty ugly.

Searches in the Chicago real estate cesspool frequently surface links to Best Chicago Condos dot com (BCC), which appears to be part of a network of sites that purport to be consumer-friendly sources of information. They’re certainly search-engine friendly.

We recently wondered aloud about the real name of BCC’s proprietor. He’d been calling himself “Bob Russell” but fessed up to having the real name of Bob Rosenthal in the comments to our post. He said that he was “embarrassed that I was the cause of any confusion whatsoever.”

Well, Bob is still a source of great confusion to me, so perhaps he’ll jump in here and relieve my concerns.

BCC gathers information from consumers through a number of forms on its site. Some of those forms solemnly promise to “never sell, rent, or share your email address with any unauthorized party” but provide no clue as to who an “authorized party” might be. You’re led to believe that only BCC will have your info.

One highly credible source has told me that his company pays Bob’s company, Box 7 Media, for that information on a per-lead basis. I don’t know how Box 7 Media can procure and be paid for real estate leads without having a broker’s license, and I can’t find any record of its having one. I’m confused.

Some areas of the BCC site leave one not confused, but completely in the dark. If you follow the “sell your condo” link on the site, nowhere along the process of providing your personal information will you be given any clue as to where your information goes. You won’t even see the ambiguous “unauthorized party” disclaimer. Where does that information go?

Is Best Chicago Condos the helpful friend it purports to be or just the best Chicago’s con job?

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