Monday, January 28

Adverstising on Zillow For Free?

hijacked Zillow listingsI was looking up the highest crime area of Arlington when I came across a strange phenomenon on many of the homes near the high-crime apartments. Someone had claimed the homes on Bert Rd. and added the following:
This property is never For sale or rent sun and Jerome Harrison Wilson and Emma kim-tashis Harrison Landlord Owner contact me at 904....
These people are not the owners of the properties, but they are using the Zillow database of homes as a way to get free advertising near some apartment complexes. The problem with the Harrison/Wilson clan is that I can't find that they own any actual properties.

Another property, also on Bert, had this extended version of Jerome's name: "mrs&mr sunok and Jerome Elijah Michael Lamar pony Harrison Wilson."

If you do an image search, you can see several of the Zillow listings associated with this couple, too. In all kinds of neighborhoods across the city. I have to wonder if they are the only ones to do this or if it's a well-loved advertising technique for "landlords." Some of the homes are even in pretty fancy neighborhoods:

Then this story gets even stranger. Apparently, Emma was arrested for trying to buy a car with a bad check back in 2009. She claimed Jesus Christ was her husband, and she actually had checks with "Mr. and Mrs. Jesus and Emma Christ" printed on them. At the time, she claimed to have a "traveling website" that received money from people. Maybe it's a service wherein people pay a landlord for rent and then never get an apartment?

Imagine if your landlord was also your Lord and Savior.

Anyhow, this could all be on the up-and-up. I don't know if Emma and Jesus were ever convicted of anything, and it's been a long time, so it's totally possible that this couple is renting places. That said, it's still not the intent of the Zillow website to allow people to add their ads to each and every house that doesn't have an owner who claims it. Then again, I suppose it's just a website designed to get money from people, so if that's working, the company might not care who hijacks the database.