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The Drum

Spam text duo fined £440,000 after sending out nearly one million illegal messages per day

The duo sold on the numbers of people who responded to the messages to claim handlers

Christopher Niebel and Gary McNeish, who sent close to one million spam messages per day, have become the first people to be fined under new laws regarding unsolicited messages.

The text spammers were fined £440,000 after using their company, Tetrus Telecoms, to send anonymous messages about personal injury claims.

Niebel and McNeish were said to have made up to £8,000 a day out of the messages by selling on the numbers of those who responded to claim management companies, which in turn passed them on to personal injury lawyers.

Set up in 2009, Tetrus used unregistered pay-as-you-go SIM cards to send out as many as 840,000 spam texts per day. Investigators received some 400 complaints from phone users who were receiving messages. The illegal messages were them traced back to Tetrus’s offices in Stockport and Birmingham where the Information Commissioner's Office found paperwork for top-up payments for the SIM cards.

Punished under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations which came in to force at the beginning of the year, the ICO ordered Niebel to pay £300,000 and McNeish to pay £140,000, as he took a lesser cut from the venture.

The company has since stopped its activities but a criminal prosecution could still be launched.