Up to a third of user reviews on consumer websites are said to be fake. However, a landmark fraud ruling in the European courts has signalled a fight back to regulate the honesty of reviews.
Partner Hannah Jones said, “Rooting out fake reviews is important because they can undermine trust in the rapidly expanding online market for good and services”.
Whilst deliberately misleading consumers through unfair or misleading marketing can, and has, led to fines and the closure of websites and rogue companies, a court in Italy has, for the first time, jailed someone for fraud in connection with paid-for user reviews.
The owner of a marketing company, Promo Salento, had been selling fake reviews on the Trip Advisor website to hundreds of hospitality businesses across Italy in order to raise their profile on the website. £100 for ten positive reviews and £240 for thirty positive reviews! The reviewer had contacted thousands of suppliers in Italy; some of whom took him up on his offer and some of whom contacted Trip Advisor to let them know about the scam. The reviewer was fined €8,000 and sentenced to nine months in jail.
If you would like assistance in relation to a criminal matter, call Hannah on 02392 820 747 for further information.