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#1787
The owner of a company selling fake TripAdvisor review packages to hospitality companies has been jailed for nine months by the Italian courts.

The move, which saw the criminal court of Lecce rule that posting fake reviews is illegal under Italian law, has been welcomed by the review site, which has been waging a war against companies flogging fake reviews.

It is the first time the enforcement of laws around the leaving of fake reviews has resulted in a criminal conviction.

As well as receiving a jail term, the owner of Italian company PromoSalento was ordered to pay approximately €8,000 (£7,125) in costs and damages.

TripAdvisor has worked with authorities including the UK Competition and Markets Authority and the US Federal Trade Commission to tackle fake online reviews, shutting down more than 60 companies as a result.

In the Italian case it had shared evidence gathered by its in-house fraud squad.

Brad Young, associate general counsel for TripAdvisor, said: “We see this as 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.

“We invest a lot in fraud prevention and we’re successful at tackling it – since 2015, we’ve put a stop to the activity of more than 60 different paid review companies worldwide. 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.”

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