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Spam duo fined £440,000 for sending claims compensation messages

Two men found guilty of sending millions of spam text messages have been fined £440,000, according to the BBC.

Christopher Niebel and Gary McNeish used their company Tetra Telecoms, based in Greater Manchester, to send out more than 800,000 texts a day on behalf of claims management companies looking for compensation claims to pass on to lawyers.

The two men were said to have used 70 mobile phone sim cards per day to send out messages like "CLAIM TODAY, you may be entitled to £3500 for the accident you had. To CLAIM free reply CLAIM to this message. To opt out text STOP".

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), responsible for the investigation, said the pair were fined for breaching the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003, which requires that marketing companies sending SMS messages identify themselves and offer a way for recipients to opt out.

The agency also said the verdict was a part of a wider operation to crack down on spammers and blaggers.

"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," said Information Commissioner Christopher Graham.

"The two individuals we have served penalties on today made a substantial profit from the sale of personal information. They knew they were breaking the law and the trail of evidence uncovered by my office highlights the scale of their operations," he added.

Meanwhile, Niebel pleaded innocence, saying the company had permission to send out texts because the users on the lists they were using had given their "consent" to be contacted. He also claimed the ICO was concentrating on him because it had no legal jurisdiction over his partner, McNeish, who now lives in Thailand.

Image Credit: Flickr (mjtmail (tiggy))