Excerpt from The Guardian
Sentence over false reviews sold to hundreds of hospitality firms is landmark fraud ruling
A TripAdvisor reviewer has been sentenced to nine months in prison in a landmark fraud ruling by an Italian court.
The owner of Promo Salento was convicted of selling fake reviews to hundreds of hospitality businesses across Italy in order to raise their profile on the website. He was also ordered to pay €8,000 (£7,100).
The court in Lecce said writing fake reviews under a false identity was a crime under Italian law.
TripAdvisor's own investigation began in 2015 when business owners forwarded it letters they had received from Promo Salento offering to write fake reviews for a fee, in order to boost the companies' profiles on the site. TripAdvisor staff identified and blocked more than 1,000 attempts by Promo Salento to post reviews.
"The police investigation into Promo Salento delivered enough evidence of criminal conduct to send the case to court," the US company said in a statement.
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