SMS spam schemers incur a further penalty of $2 million

Thursday, 02 December, 2010

The Federal Court in Brisbane has imposed $2 million in penalties against Scott Gregory Phillips in proceedings brought by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in relation to SMS spam. This penalty is in addition to $22.25 million imposed on seven other respondents last year, bringing the total amount of penalties in this matter to $24.25 million.

“The size of the penalties awarded in this case are an indication of how seriously the courts treat breaches of the Spam Act, which is very encouraging,” said ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman.

Phillips, along with the other respondents, was involved in a complicated scheme where they established fake dating website profiles to obtain mobile telephone numbers of genuine dating website users. These mobile phone numbers were then sent messages from people pretending to want to chat via a ‘Safedivert’ service with a view to meeting and forming a relationship with the recipient. Users who responded to the messages were charged approximately $5 per message.

The ACMA alleged that the scheme cost Australian mobile phone users in excess of $4 million from late 2005 until November 2008.

“In cases such as this where the conduct was calculated, deceptive and had a detrimental effect on Australian phone users, the ACMA will not hesitate to use every available avenue to protect the consumer,” said  Chapman. “This prosecution again demonstrates the commitment of the ACMA to ensure that individuals and companies comply with the Spam Act.”

When delivering his judgment today, Justice Logan said, “The conduct was undoubtedly deliberate. IMP and its agent Jobspy, which employed IMP’s modus of operation, engaged in concerted deception. Phillips’ involvement in the deception was at the most senior level. He was the controller of IMP.”

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