The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Spammer penalty welcomed

15 August 2013

Internal Affairs has welcomed the $95,000 penalty imposed on an Australian businessman for sending possibly a million spam emails to New Zealanders.

The Department took action against Wayne Robert Mansfield of Perth after receiving 53 complaints about spam emails promoting Mansfield’s company, Business Seminars NZ, between 5 April and 27 September 2010.

Justice Edwin Wylie said Mansfield’s conduct was clearly deliberate or reckless. He did not try and defend the court proceedings, file an admission or cooperate with the Department to prepare an agreed statement of facts. Nor did he offer an enforceable undertaking not to breach the Act in the future. Justice Wylie said the number of messages sent were in the hundreds of thousands and could have been close to a million.

This is the second successful High Court case the Department has taken under the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007. In 2008 and 2009 two New Zealanders were ordered to pay $100,000, and a third, $50,000, for their part in a major international spamming operation known as Operation Herbal King.

The Team Leader of the Department’s Electronic Messaging Compliance Unit, Toni Demetriou, said yesterday’s decision reflects the seriousness with which spam is regarded.

“It should send a strong signal to spammers that they will be held accountable,” Mr Demetriou said. “We are particularly pleased that the judgment accepted that the sending of email to New Zealand by a non-resident can breach the anti-spam law and that the Court has jurisdiction to deal with the matter.

“We are concerned about the burden unsolicited commercial messages have on Internet users and systems and we will continue to pursue spammers by promoting compliance that minimises harm and maximises benefit.

“The Department would like to thank the many members of the public who took the time and trouble to lodge complaints with us, in particular the many complainants who gave their time to provide statements of evidence supporting their complaints. This greatly assisted the investigation and evidence that could be provided to the court to assist our statement of claim against Wayne Mansfield.”

Enforcement of the penalty is a matter for the New Zealand and Australian courts. The Department notes, however, that from 13 October 2013 civil pecuniary penalties and certain regulatory fines will be enforceable in Australia, thanks to legislative changes in NZ and Australia.

Media contact:
Trevor Henry, senior communications adviser, Department of Internal Affairs
Ph 04 495 7211; cell 021 245 8642