Heads up to anyone planning on posting (or has posted) a fraudulent review on TripAdvisor, the deceitful act could cost you your freedom, literally.

Don’t believe us, ask the owner of PromoSalento, a company that sold fake review packages to hospitality businesses in Italy, who was sentenced to nine months in jail and told to pay 8,000 Euros for persistently posting fake reviews to the travel site.

The Criminal Court of Lecce found the owner guilty of writing fake reviews using a false identity, which is criminal conduct under Italian criminal law. The court said selling fake reviews is a “violation of the law in many jurisdictions”.

TripAdvisor, which says it takes fraud seriously, supported the prosecution of PromoSalento and believes it to be a “landmark ruling for the internet”.

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

Brad Young, TripAdvisor Vice President Associate General Counsel

TripAdvisor shared evidence against PromoSalento from its extensive in-house fraud investigations and provided support from its Italian legal counsel.

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Image: John Schnobrich/Unsplash

Brad said the online review site invests heavily in fraud protection and has managed to stop the activity from more than 60 different paid review companies since 2015.

“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.”

Brad Young, TripAdvisor Vice President Associate General Counsel

TripAdvisor has urged businesses to contact them directly at [email protected] if they are approached by a company or individual offering to write fake reviews. The company will investigate any information submitted to them, “no matter how minor”.

 

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