Coronavirus UK: Firm profited from pandemic by sending spam texts

Digital Growth Experts Ltd ‘played upon people’s concerns at a time of great public uncertainty’ (Picture: Amazon/Getty Images)

A firm has been slapped with a £60,000 fine after sending 17,000 text messages about hand gel in an attempt to profit from the coronavirus pandemic.

The hefty fine was issued after the messages – which claimed the hand sanitising product was ‘effective against coronavirus’ – were sent the height of the Covid-19 crisis between February 29 and April 30.

Digital Growth Experts Ltd (DGEL), the company responsible, failed to provide sufficient evidence that it had the consent from phone owners it is required to have under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said.

Andy Curry, head of investigations at the ICO, said the London-based firm had ‘played upon people’s concerns at a time of great public uncertainty’.

Those responsible ‘acted with a blatant disregard for the law, and all in order to feather its own pockets’, he added.

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The firm has been hit with a £60,000 fine (Picture: Getty Images)

Mr Curry continued: ‘We will prioritise action on organisations carrying out similar activity. Direct marketing laws are clear and it is the responsibility of businesses to ensure they comply.

‘Ignorance of it or attempting to rely on vague and misleading evidence in support of a marketing campaign simply does not wash.

‘The sending of nuisance marketing texts are a significant concern to the public, and the ICO will continue to take action where our advice is not followed and where we find serious, systemic or negligent behaviour that puts people’s information rights at risk.’

DGEL came to authorities’ attention after people forwarded the texts to 7726, the spam reporting service.

ICO urges members of the public to report nuisance texts, calls and emails on 0303 123 1113.

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