Premium apartment-hunting service Westside Rentals on Monday suspended a single-user membership account that was found to have been accessed by nearly 17,000 people.
The compromised account belonged to Julie Moreno, a recent graduate of California State University, Northridge, whose parents footed the $60 account fee as a graduation gift. Moreno stated that she gave out her password to “only a couple of dudes” she knew from her communication studies class. From there, account access spread like wildfire. Login information was emailed several hundred times, until eventually it was posted on Reddit and featured in a blog post on the Huffington Post's Los Angeles section.
The $60 fee for Westside Rentals access has been a deterrent for many renters since the company's launch in 1996. “Sixty dollars is a lot of money to spend to find a place you want to live for the next 12 months to five years of your life,” said Shelly Measly, one of the people whose access to Westside Rentals was stripped when the account was suspended. “I'll probably find a roommate on Craigslist, but hope I don't end up with a pervy dude. Who am I kidding? This will be just like my banjo lessons.”
Despite the extraordinary apartments rumored to be listed on Westside Rentals, very few users actually pay for access. “My friend told me his brother got this sick two-bedroom loft in Hollywood, only $1,200,” said Zillow renter Jason McColhan, wistfully looking out his window. The view: his neighbor's bathroom. “I'd literally do anything to get access to Westside Rentals. Besides paying money for it.”
Los Angeles housing expert Sharon Maas gave some words of advice to those who lost access to Westside Rentals: “Move to a different city. That is, unless you wanna live in a mold- and bedbug-infested apartment until someone inevitably breaks into the glorified closet you call a studio and murders you.” Maas was using the suspended Westside Rentals account for her real estate brokerage business, which is temporarily closed until she can find at least 29 other people to split the account fee.
Mark Verge, owner of Westside Rentals, is declining further investigation of illegal account access, saying that he suspects sharing Westside Rentals passwords is a freak occurrence.
When asked if he has ever shared a password, Verge commented, “I gave my HBO GO password to a gym buddy 'cause he was in a bind, but I'm sure he wouldn't keep using it or share the password with anyone else who asked. Right?”
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