ICO raids SIM farm blamed for 350,000 nuisance messages

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has seized hundreds of SIM cards after raiding a SIM farm located at offices in Wolverhampton.

Initial estimates suggest the equipment could have been used to send over 350,000 nuisance text messages, though the total may have been more than a million.

Computer equipment and paperwork were seized and a residential address was also searched. The investigation continues.

Andy Curry, enforcement manager at the ICO, said: “What we’ve seized backs the intelligence we had that hundreds of thousands of nuisance messages were coming from this address. The rules on sending messages are clear, and if the evidence proves the law has been broken then we will issue a sizeable fine against those responsible.”

The raid was prompted by intelligence supported by reports using the 7726 tool that allows mobile phone users to report spam text messages by forwarding the messages to 7726 (spelling out SPAM).

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

The raid follows an announcement by the ICO on Tuesday that a Yorkshire direct marketing firm and a Devon PPI claims company were told they face fines totalling £140,000 for breaching electronic marketing rules.

The companies were linked to thousands of nuisance marketing calls and prompted over 1,200 reports to the ICO and the Telephone Preference Service.

Importance of the 7726 GSMA Spam Reporting Service

Neil Cook, CTO of Cloudmark (the message-based threat protection specialist company that powers the 7726 GSMA Spam Reporting Service), explained: “Nuisance spam messages and phone calls are escalating in the UK. This latest raid by the ICO is a fantastic example of how the GSMA Spam Reporting Service haas been crucial in delivering the knowledge required to shut down another company alleged to have been taking advantage of subscribers’ trust in mobile messaging services.”

Cook continued: “The service empowers consumers to take control of the issue and know that action will be forthcoming that further protect thems. As the ICO has stated, the information received from the public via 7726 was crucial in this latest action.”

With the GSMA Spam Reporting Service, subscribers can easily report SMS spam by forwarding it to the special short code: ‘7726’ (S-P-A-M). Through the automated collection and analysis of subscriber-reported spam, the service provides operators with collaborative and real-time global insight into threats against their networks and subscribers.

“This information can then provide law enforcement agencies with the evidence they need to bring spammers to justice,” concluded Cook.

Find out more on how to report nuisance texts and calls to the Information Commissioner’s Office

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