PHOTO: Australian property giant Meriton has to pay $3m in fines for manipulating TripAdvisor reviews in breach of consumer law. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Australian property giant Meriton has been ordered to pay $3m for manipulating TripAdvisor reviews about its serviced apartments, in breach of consumer law.

Meriton was found by the federal court to have withheld from the travel website the emails of guests who had complained or had a negative experience between November 2014 and October 2015.

In other cases, the property manager added the letters “MSA” to email addresses, ensuring they were invalid and guests were not prompted by TripAdvisor to leave a review.

Justice Mark Moshinsky on Tuesday ordered Meriton to pay $3m for breaching consumer law, after finding it engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct late last year.

“Meriton’s conduct created an unduly favourable impression,” Moshinsky said in a written judgment.

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