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Authorities swoop on illicit Wolverhampton SPAM FARM

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UK data privacy experts have raided an SMS spam farm blamed for spewing out more than 350,000 nuisance messages to mobiles.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) seized hundreds of SIM cards on Thursday, after raiding a SIM farm in offices in Wolverhampton. Initial estimates suggest the impounded kit could have been used to send over 350,000 nuisance text messages - but the total may have been more than a million.

Computer equipment and paperwork were seized, and a residential address was also searched as part of an ongoing investigation by the ICO.

Andy Curry, an enforcement manager at the ICO, said that if found responsible a "sizeable fine" would be levied against the alleged mobile spammers.

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). The facility works through all four main UK Mobile operators (EE, Vodafone, Telefonica O2 & 3) and has been running for just under a year.

“Nuisance spam messages and phone calls are escalating in the UK," said Neil Cook, CTO of Cloudmark, the firm which provides the spam reporting service. "The raid on spammers by the ICO is a fantastic example of how the GSMA Spam Reporting Service was crucial in delivering the knowledge required to shut down another company taking advantage of subscribers’ trust in mobile messaging services."

The bust 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 that resulted in complaints to the ICO and the Telephone Preference Service. ®

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