The Federal Court in Brisbane has slapped a $6.5 million fine on two culprits of an elaborate SMS scheme involving online dating services. The latest charge brings the total amount of penalties issued in this case to $22.25m.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) brought the case to the Federal Court in December 2008 and involved eight respondents. It was alleged the respondents falsified dating website profiles to harvest mobile phone numbers of genuine users. An SMS would then be sent to those numbers requesting to meet and date the recipients and users who replied to the message were slugged $5 for the response.
According to ACMA, the deception was in breach of the Spam Act 2003 and robbed genuine mobile users in excess of $4m since 2005. Jobspy Pty Ltd and Scott Mark Moles were fined $4m and $2.5m respectively in the latest ruling.
“This matter should also serve as a warning to all parties involved in sending commercial electronic messages that non-compliance with the Spam Act can carry with it very significant consequences,” ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman, said in a statement.
In October, two companies and three individuals related to this case were fined $15.7m.
The final respondent in the matter is due in Court in February 2010.