Man jailed in Italy for writing fake TripAdvisor review - company

TripAdvisor hailed the decision as a

This is one of the first times paid review fraud - when companies or individuals sell fake reviews to business owners - has resulted in a criminal conviction. The judge found that writing fake reviews under a false identity was a crime under Italian law. He was also ordered to pay €8,000 (£7,100).

"We see this as a landmark ruling for the Internet", TripAdvisor said to Reuters.

The sentence was handed down by the Criminal Court of Lecce.

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

Most companies that paid PromoSalento for fake reviews were demoted within the TripAdvisor Popularity Ranking, while some were given red badges that warned potential customers they were not to be trusted.

For what is believed to be the first time, a person has been sent to jail for writing fake reviews online.

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TripAdvisor confirmed that it supported the prosecution of PromoSalento by sharing evidence from its in-house fraud investigations and providing support from its Italian legal counsel.

"By working together with the prosecutors in Italy, we have shown those trying to offer paid reviews that they have some skin in the game. and there are repercussions coming for their real-world actions", Young said. "However, we can only do so much alone".

"Online reviews play a major role in tourism and consumer purchasing decisions, but it's important everyone plays by the rules", said Pascal Lamy, the World Committee on Tourism Ethics Chairman at the United Nations World Tourism Organization. The e-mails said that his company would write positive reviews and help improve the property's ratings in exchange for a fee.

Businesses who paid the fraudster to boost their business profile also suffered consequences.

The proactive focus on fraudulent reviews was laudable, Noonan said, and companies were increasingly deploying algorithms and fraud investigators to catch perpetrators.

'Fake reviews clearly contravene the World Committee on Tourism Ethics guidelines, which we published a year ago to guide the responsible use of ratings and reviews on digital platforms.

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