Attorney General Cuomo Announces Settlement With Buffalo-based Advertising Web Site
April 17, 2007 – New York State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced a settlement with FindRentals.com, Inc., a Buffalo-based Web site that sells advertising space to vacation homeowners who wish to rent out their properties. An investigation by the Attorney General determined that to sell its services to consumers, the company falsely claimed that it was Google.com’s “number one vacation rental site.”
As part of a Consent Order and Judgment reached with FindRentals.com and its owner, Anthony Vaarwerk, by State Supreme Court Justice John Curran of Erie County on April 3, FindRentals.com agreed that it would no longer represent that its ads appeared as the leading advertisement on Google or any other Web site on which it advertises. FindRentals.com further agreed that if it represented to consumers that it advertised on Google, it would disclose to consumers that the placement and timing of the ad would vary. FindRentals.com agreed to pay $9,000 in restitution and does not have to admit to any wrongdoing.
The investigation, which began in August 2006 after receiving a tip from an ex-employee, found that while FindRentals.com did advertise on Google, the company’s advertisement appeared only about 50 percent of the time, a fact that was not disclosed to consumers. The Attorney General’s office analyzed records subpoenaed from Google showing FindRentals.com’s advertisement did not appear during evenings or most weekends.
“Deceptive business practices are an affront to consumers,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Web sites that claim to be more prestigious than they are in order to solicit more business are indeed deceiving the public. My office is dedicated to making sure that New York-based businesses operate within the law.”
The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General James Morrissey under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Buffalo Regional Office Russell Ippolito.