In a legal first, a man has been jailed for writing fake reviews on TripAdvisor, according to news reports. The nine-month sentence capped an unusual fraud case in an Italian court in which the owner of a marketing firm was convicted of selling fake reviews to hundreds of businesses across Italy, The Guardian reports.
In an incredible assist to consumers, the court ruled that using a false identity to write bogus reviews is indeed a crime.
Fake TripAdvisor reviews send man to jail + how not to get fooled
TripAdvisor said that its internal fraud investigators had began looking into the marketing outfit, Promo Salento, a few years ago.
“Back in 2015, our dedicated team of fraud investigators identified a new illegal business in Italy called Promo Salento that was offering to write fake reviews for hospitality businesses to boost their profile on TripAdvisor,” the company said in a article on its website. “Several Italian businesses forwarded the emails to us, which kick-started an investigation that would ultimately see the person behind Promo Salento sent to jail!”
This particular case may have ended well for TripAdvisor, but controversy continues to follow the travel and review site. In November 2017, the company announced that it would label properties where sexual assaults had been reported with a badge. The measure came after the site was accused of deleting reviews where vacationers claimed they had been raped.
Although it has gotten better as of late, fake reviews continue to be a problem for the site. So rather than leaving it up to TripAdvisor, here are some tips on what you can do to spot a fake review.
5 red flags to help spot a fake review on TripAdvisor
- One-time reviewers: If you see a review from an account that has no other postings, it may well be a fraudster.
- Properties with only one-time reviewers: If you scan through the reviews of a certain property and all you see are posters who have only commented that one time, that’s a big red flag.
- Lots of “me” and “I” and “we”: Researchers from Cornell University found in widely cited study that fake reviewers tended to use more superlatives and that “increased first person” accounts were the single largest indicator of fake or deceptive reviews.
- Obscure hotel facts: If a reviewer knows how many rooms the hotel has or the vacancy rates, be forewarned.
- Overly broad: On the other hand, if a review seems to skim over the most prominent features of a lodging (maybe the 50-foot waterfall in the lobby), you can tell they probably haven’t been there.