ICO seizes hundreds of SIM cards used to send millions of spam texts

Sim cards and phones from ICO raid in WolverhamptonThe Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has seized hundreds of SIM cards from a property in Wolverhampton used to send out millions of spam text messages.

The raid, on a residential property, also saw computer equipment and paperwork seized, as the data watchdog continues to clamp down on the nuisance of spam text and phone messages.

The ICO said at least 350,000 nuisance texts were traced to the address thanks to reports from users forwarding spam messages to the 7726 spam reporting services.

However, it said the true number of messages being sent from the location is likely to be well into the millions as many will have not been reported.

Andy Curry, enforcement manager at the ICO, said the raid proved the organisation was taking a hard-line stance against those causing misery for mobile phone owners across the UK.

“What we’ve seized today backs the intelligence we had that hundreds of thousands of nuisance messages were coming from this address,” he said.

“The rules on sending messages are clear, and if the evidence proves the law has been broken, we will issue a sizeable fine against those responsible.”

The ICO will now use the information it has gathered in the raid to pursue a case against those believed to be behind the spam farm, with fines of up to £500,000 at their disposal if the case is proved.

Curry said the raid showed the 7726 service led to clear results and that users should continue to report spam texts in this way to help the ICO continue its fight against spammers.

“This shows why reporting messages to us and your mobile network operator is so crucial. Without the reports we got through the 7726 system, we wouldn’t have been able to carry out this raid today.”

The CTO of Cloudmark, Neil Cook, which provides the 7726 spam reporting service welcomed the ICO’s announcement.

“Nuisance spam messages and phone calls are escalating in the UK. The raid on spammers by the ICO is a fantastic example of how the GSMA Spam Reporting Service was crucial in delivering the knowledge required to shut down another company taking advantage of subscribers’ trust in mobile messaging services.”

The raid followed hot on the heels of a warning from the ICO to a direct marketing firms in Yorkshire and a Devon PPI claims company that they could face fines totalling £140,000 for breaching electronic marketing rules.

In late 2012, the ICO handed out a huge £440,000 fine to a company called Tetrus Telecoms that was sending out up to 840,000 texts a day, in another crackdown on the plague of nuisance messages.

23 May 2014 | 12:44 pm – Source: v3.co.uk

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