Man jailed in Italy for selling fake TripAdvisor reviews

Owner of Italian business that sold fake TripAdvisor reviews jailed for nine months

As TripAdvisor (trip) described Wednesday in a detailed account of the case, the company was initially tipped off by several Italian businesses, who forwarded the PromoSalento proprietor's emails in which he offered to write fake reviews in order to boost their rankings on the site. The court also ordered him to pay around €8,000 ($9,300) in costs and damages.

A man in Italy has been jailed for nine months over fake reviews on TripAdvisor, which the company has hailed as a "landmark ruling for the internet".

TripAdvisor said in a statement that the sentence was handed down in June by a court in the southern Italian city of Lecce.

TripAdvisor staff then identified and blocked more than 1,000 attempts by Promo Salento to post reviews.

"TripAdvisor formally joined the prosecution as a civil claimant, sharing evidence from our own investigations and providing support from our Italian legal counsel".

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A fraudster has been jailed for selling fake Tripadvsior reviews to hospitality companies in one of the first cases of its kind.

'Writing fake reviews has always been fraud, but this is the first time we've seen someone sent to jail as a result'.

Pascal Lamy, the chairman of the world committee on tourism ethics at the UN World Tourism Organisation, added: 'Online reviews play a major role in tourism and consumer purchasing decisions, but it's important everyone plays by the rules. The e-mails said that his company would write positive reviews and help improve the property's ratings in exchange for a fee.

'The global travel community is a vital partner in the fight against paid review fraud and evidence shared by business owners approached by paid review companies is particularly valuable'.

The proactive focus on fraudulent reviews was laudable, Noonan said, and companies were increasingly deploying algorithms and fraud investigators to catch perpetrators. The shift in consumer behaviour has resulted in advice from organisations such as the World Committee on Tourism Ethics, which published guidelines on the responsible use and misuse of ratings and review on digital platforms previous year.

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