Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

Is it illegal to post fake TripAdvisor reviews?

Is it illegal to post fake TripAdvisor reviews?

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

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.

An online fraudster who sold fake TripAdvisor reviews to hospitality businesses has been jailed after a "landmark ruling".

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.

"TripAdvisor welcomes the opportunity to work with enforcement authorities, including the UK Competition and Markets Authority and the US Federal Trade Commission, to share information and support their efforts to tackle online fake reviews", the statement read.

It also has a small team of investigators who pose as hoteliers, and is appealing to business owners to get in contact if they are approached by paid review companies.

TripAdvisor today hailed the decision as a "landmark ruling" and says it is keen to work with other global watchdogs such as the UK Competitions and Markets Authority to tackle the issue.

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A man in Italy has been jailed for nine months for writing fake reviews on website TripAdvisor.

'However, we can only do so much alone, which is why we're eager to collaborate with regulators and law enforcement authorities to support their prosecutions'.

The company said since 2015 it had thwarted 60 different paid review companies across the world. In Italy, it is illegal to use a false identity to write fake reviews.

"The recommendations were developed in collaboration with TripAdvisor, Minube and Yelp and we know that industry collaboration has an important role to play in tackling review fraud".

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

The court also ordered the unnamed fraudulent reviewer to pay €8,000 in fines.

TripAdvisor has more than 661 million reviews and opinions covering the world's largest selection of travel listings, including around 7.7 million accommodations, airlines, experiences, and restaurants. For example, in the European Union, they've been outlawed for more than a decade. TripAdvisor has millions of reviews for famous locations and businesses around the world.

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