The defendant, who is the owner of marketing agency PromoSalento, was also ordered to pay €8000 ($12,975) in what the Italian judicial system hopes will serve as a precedent.

The court in Lecce, where PromoSalento is based, said writing fake reviews under a false identity was a crime under Italian legislation.

TripAdvisor began its own investigation in 2015 when numerous business owners across Italy provided evidence of letters they had received from PromoSalento offering to write fake reviews for a fee, in order to boost the companies’ profiles on the site.

The US company identified and blocked more than 1000 attempts by PromoSalento to post reviews.

“We see this as a landmark ruling for the Internet,” TipAdvisor vice-president and associate general counsel, Brad Young, said in a statement.

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

TripAdvisor has more than 661 million reviews and opinions covering the world’s largest selection of travel listings, including around 7.7 million accommodations, airlines, experiences, and restaurants.

With around 456 million monthly visitors on average, the website encourages businesses approached or contacted by companies or individuals offering fake reviews to share the information immediately with TripAdvisor staff.