Md. AG Nails Baltimore Company for Housing Rental Scam

U.S. Rental Network Charged With Advertising Rental Properties That Did Not Exist

ANNAPOLIS - Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that the Consumer Protection Division has charged U.S. Rental Network, LLC, a/k/a Caruso Publishing, LLC, 6425 Harford Road, Baltimore, and the company’s owner, Christopher Caruso, a Michigan resident, with unfair and deceptive trade practices in connection with its sale of rental listing services to consumers.

U.S. Rental Network advertised housing for rent at attractive prices in Baltimore newspapers. However, when consumers contacted U.S. Rental in order to rent the advertised properties, instead of being offered leases, U.S. Rental sold them a rental listing service for $85.

According to the charges filed by the Division, the properties advertised by U.S. Rental Network did not actually exist. Instead, they were fictitious descriptions of housing in Baltimore created by the company and its owner to entice consumers to purchase their rental listing service. Consumers who purchased the rental listing service were unable to locate houses for rent in the areas that U.S. Rental advertised in the newspapers at the advertised rents.

The Consumer Protection Division has charged U.S. Rental and its owner with false and deceptive advertising in connection with their advertising rental properties and sale of their rental listing service. The Division also charged U.S. Rental and its owner with violating the Consumer Protection Act by representing that their services were 100% guaranteed and refusing to pay refunds to consumers who could not locate houses to rent. The Division estimates that thousands of consumers may have been harmed by U.S. Rental’s practices.

“A company cannot advertise services, take money from consumers, and then not provide the promised service,” said Attorney General Gansler. “Consumers need affordable housing— not false promises.”

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division has filed a Statement of Charges seeking restitution for consumers harmed by the business’ practices, as well as its investigation costs and a civil penalty. A public hearing on the charges is scheduled for Tuesday, April 24, 2007 at 9:00 a.m. at the Office of Administrative Hearings, 11101 Gilroy Road in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

Consumers who wish to contact the Consumer Protection Division may call (410) 576-6569.

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