Spam leads to $95,000 fine

A businessman has been fined $95,000 for advertising his business seminars with spam emails.

The Department of internal Affairs received 53 complaints between April and September 2010 over spam messages sent by Australian businessman Wayne Mansfield.

Mansfield was advertising seminars on social media marketing, negotiating, "power selling" and "time shifting".

One of his emails was titled "Someone is waiting for your call - don't be a Cold Calling Scaredy Cat".

He ran four seminars a day at Auckland's Langham Hotel, with seats costing $199.

When contacted by the department, Mansfield provided them his database of nearly 67,000 addresses that he sent emails to.

He said he usually sent emails to about 10,000 people per campaign.

High Court Justice Edwin Wylie ruled that the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 could apply to Mansfield even though he was resident in Australia and the messages had originated from there.

Mansfield was not represented at the hearing, but the judge ruled that a pecuniary penalty could be imposed by way of a formal proof hearing.

He ruled that the messages were unsolicited because some complainants did not have a business relationship with Mansfield, they continued to receive messages even after hitting the "unsubscribe" button, and Mansfield admitted he had bought the email addresses from a third party, Image Marketing Group.

"In such circumstances, express, inferred or deemed consent to the receipt of emails from Mr Mansfield or Business Seminars NZ is inherently unlikely," the judge said.

Mansfield told the department that he had changed his IP address after his messages started to be blocked by some internet service providers.

The judge said Mansfield had probably sent hundreds of thousands of emails, possibly close to a million.

"It follows that, in my view, the appropriate penalty in this case is one of $95,000, and I impose a civil pecuniary penalty in that sum. It is to be paid to the Crown," the judge said.

In 2006, Mansfield was fined A$1 million in the Australian Federal Court after authorities took action against his spamming activities.

He was banned for four years in 2009 from running companies in Australia, although that expired in April.

Fairfax Media