ACMA v Mobilegate SMS spam penalty

The Federal Court has handed down its penalty in ACMA v Mobilegate (previously discussed here)

According to ACMA the Federal Court has awarded penalties totalling $15.75M against the following defendants:

  • Mobilegate Ltd: $5 million
  • Winning Bid Pty Ltd: $3.5 million
  • Mr Simon Anthony Owen: $3 million
  • Mr Tarek Andreas Salcedo: $3 million
  • Mr Glenn Christopher Maughan: $1.25 million

A penalty hearing against 3 other defendants will take place on 30 November.

ACMA instituted proceedings against eight respondents in the Federal Court in December 2008, alleging contraventions of both the Spam Act and the Trade Practices Act in relation to premium SMS chat services. ACMA alleged that the respondents were engaged in a complicated scheme to obtain mobile phone numbers from members of dating websites, using fake member profiles, in order to send commercial electronic messages by SMS.

ACMA alleged that:

  • after the numbers were obtained, unsolicited messages were sent to the mobile phone numbers offering the opportunity to chat via SMS using services described as the ‘Safe Divert’ or ‘Maybemeet’ services;
  • the chat was not offered by genuine members of dating websites but employees of Mobilegate and Winning Bid;
  • consumers were charged up to five dollars per message; and
  • when users questioned whether the messages were from a real person, they were told that it was a real person who was using the “Safe Divert” service to keep their mobile phone number private.
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