Industry News

$15+ Million in Fines for Spammers, with Porn Link

from http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/919548/spammers-hit-by-15-million-in-fines

Spammers hit by $15.75m in fines19:44 AEST Fri Oct 23 2009

Two companies and three individuals have been hit with penalties totalling $15.75 million for contravening the Spam Act, the first court action taken against unsolicited SMS messages.

The fines were handed down in the Federal Court in Brisbane on Friday.

Mobilegate Ltd and Winning Bid Pty Ltd were found to have contravened the Spam Act and the Trade Practices Act 1974 in August 2009.

Three individuals – former Winning Bid director Simon Anthony Owen, current Mobilegate director Tarek Andreas Salcedo and Winning Bid employee Glenn Christopher Maughan – were also found responsible for the breaches.

The case was the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA) first court action taken against unsolicited SMS messages.

ACMA acting chairman Chris Cheah said it was a significant outcome for all mobile phone users.

“The maximum penalties provided for under the Spam Act are very high,” he said.

“The substantial penalties imposed by the court in this case show that spam will not be tolerated in Australia.”

ACMA launched proceedings against eight respondents in the Federal Court in December 2008, alleging contraventions of both acts in relation to premium SMS chat services.

It alleged the respondents were engaged in a scheme to obtain mobile phone numbers from members of dating websites, using fake member profiles to send commercial electronic messages by SMS.

It was alleged that after the numbers were obtained, unsolicited messages were sent to the mobile phone numbers offering to chat via SMS using services described as the Safe Divert or Maybemeet services.

ACMA claimed the chat was not offered by genuine members of dating websites but employees of Mobilegate and Winning Bid and consumers were charged up to $5 per message.

When users questioned whether the messages were from a real person, it was claimed they were told that it was a real person who was using the Safe Divert service to keep their mobile phone number private.

“The conduct of these respondents was particularly malicious and deceitful as it deliberately and systematically preyed upon vulnerable people, offering false hope and expectations,” Mr Cheah said.

ACMA estimates the scheme generated more than $2 million in proceeds.

A further hearing is scheduled for November 30 in relation to allegations against the remaining three respondents – Glenn Christopher Maughan, Scott Mark Moles and *Scott Gregory Phillips.

The Spam Act 2003 regulates emails, SMS messages, MMS messages and instant messaging messages.

The Act states that commercial electronic messages must have the recipient’s consent, clearly identify accurate information about the organisation and contain unsubscribe options.

The penalty provisions came into force in 2004 when Australia was ranked 10th in spam-relaying countries for email, according to the Sophos list.

For the 2008 calendar year, Australia fell to 32nd.

In the only other court proceeding brought by ACMA under the Spam Act, the Federal Court in 2006 penalised Clarity1 Pty Ltd and Wayne Mansfield a total of $5.5 million for sending unsolicited emails and using harvested address lists.

*Scott Gregory Phillips found in the LIB archives as a pornographer involved with SexTraffic.com http://www.lukeisback.com/archives/updates/050724.htm

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