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ICO slaps £440,000 fine on firm for sending 840,000 spam texts a day

28 Nov 2012

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has handed fines totalling £440,000 to the owners of a spam-texting marketing company, which had been annoying millions of Britons with unwanted messages over the past three years.

According to the ICO, its investigations of Tetrus Telecoms showed the spammers were using unregistered SIM cards to send out up to 840,000 texts a day, earning the spammers up to £8,000 a day.

Company director Christopher Niebel was fined £300,000, with co-owner Gary McNeish fined £140,000.

The pair were responsible for plaguing phone owners with bogus messages about compensation for accidents and bank loans.  

The messages also urged the recipient to reply with a text saying “stop” if they wanted to opt out from receiving more messages, another problem highlighted by the ICO.

“Our message to the public is that if you don’t know who sent you a text message then do not respond, otherwise your details may be used to generate profits for these unscrupulous individuals,” said information commissioner Christopher Graham.

“The public have told us that they are distressed and annoyed by the constant bombardment of illegal texts and calls and we are currently cracking down on the companies responsible, using the full force of the law,” he added

The ICO has received more than 60,000 notifications from Britons complaining about unwanted texts and calls.

Graham said the majority of SMS spammers try to remain anonymous and hope to profit by selling personal information to claims management firms.

He promised to work with the Ministry of Justice to target firms that buy this ill-gotten information.

The fine is the first issued by the ICO since it gained powers to serve monetary penalties for abuses under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations in January 2012.

The ICO also said it was currently investigating three other spam-related cases.

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