In the UK, the ICO and the government's Insolvency Service have handed out a six-year ban to Aaron Frederick Stalberg, the director of market research and polling company The Lead Experts Ltd, after the firm made thousands of unregulated marketing calls.
Stalberg, 27 and from Exmouth, is described as the sole director of the company, which came to the ICO's notice when consumers complained of receiving automated calls between February 2015 and September 2016. Between 4th and 5th May 2016 alone, the ICO established that the company made more than 115,000 automated marketing calls to members of the public, breaching regulations on privacy and electronic communications. Calls did not include company details and were routed via Buenos Aires in an apparent effort to make it difficult to trace.
The company initially denied it had ever used automated dialling and said it had purchased just a small batch of 'test leads', of which a limited number were dialled. Follow-up revealed this to be incorrect and the firm gave no response to further enquiries, on which the ICO levied a £70,000 fine in October last year. The Lead Experts failed to lodge an appeal or pay the debt, and the firm was then referred to the Insolvency Service for the disqualification. Stalberg is banned for 6 years from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.
Andy Curry, ICO Investigations Group Manager, said: 'By working closely with The Insolvency Service we have been successful in stopping the unscrupulous activities of company directors like Aaron Stalberg who cause upset and distress to millions of people who are on the receiving end of this kind of illegal marketing activity. Our powers to protect the public from companies like theirs making nuisance calls and sending spam texts, have recently been made stronger than ever as we can now make directors and managers of the companies responsible personally liable for fines of up to £500,000. This will help stop them closing down one rogue company and setting up in business again'.
At the same time, the authorities handed a four-year ban to Keith Hancock, the 51-year-old boss of Lad Media, after more than a hundred people complained about unsolicited texts from his firm, and an ICO probe found it had sent nearly 400,000 text messages to consumers, including some who had specifically asked not to receive them. Again, the company had failed to pay an earlier fine.
All articles 2006-19 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas.