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The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Services › Anti-Spam › Results and Statistics

The Anti-Spam Compliance Unit, established in September 2007, consists of a manager, several investigators, and an investigator analyst.

Our primary focus following the introduction of the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 is on education. If a breach of the Act is alleged, our priority is to educate the company concerned on the importance of complying with the Act. Should future breaches occur we will then look at imposing suitable penalties.

Follow the links below to find out more about the complaints we have investigated.

See also: Press Releases and Reported Scams


Below are some examples of the complaints we have received and the results of our investigations. Because we are concentrating on educating businesses at this stage the companies involved have not been identified.

Civil Infringement Notice - Case summary

On 24 February 2010, the Anti-Spam Compliance Unit received a complaint about unsolicited commercial emails sent from a well-known Australasian company. The complaint detailed alleged breaches of section 9 (1) and (2) (consent) and section 11 (1a) (unsubscribe) of the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007.

The complainant said he had contacted the offending organisation many times to unsubscribe from receiving the emails. Having had no success he turned to the Department for assistance, lodging his complaints through the Spam Complaints system.

Between lodging his complaint and the Department beginning its investigation on 25 March 2010 the organisation sent the complainant a further 13 emails.

The man said he had originally opted in to receive marketing material from the organisation. But he later attempted over several months to opt out, using a variety of methods including the emails' unsubscribe facility linked to the organisation's automated subscription system, contacting the business via Facebook and emailing directly - all to no avail.

The offending organisation's case history revealed that a previous complaint was lodged with the Department in September 2009 and resolved through education and persuasion. On this occasion a complainant had attempted unsuccessfully to unsubscribe over five months. The organisation assured the Department that a defect in its automated subscription system, which sent unsolicited electronic messages, had been fixed.

The Anti-Spam Compliance Unit discovered that the complainant was assured in mid-January 2010, through a conversation on Facebook, that he would no longer receive these emails.

The Department contacted the offending company in late March 2010 to be told they were "not aware of any failings in (their) system". Thirteen further unsolicited electronic messages were submitted to the Department, each one constituted a civil liability event and a breach of the Act. The person responsible for authorising the sending of the messages was asked on 1 April 2010 to remove the complainant's email address immediately and cease sending him any commercial electronic messages. The complainant received a further unsolicited email 11 days later!

A complete and thorough investigation into the February 2010 complaint led to a total of 24 unsolicited emails being identified, for a total of 26 civil liability events (24 breaches of Section 9, consent and 2 further breaches of Section 11, unsubscribe).

The Department issued an infringement notice for a total of $6,500.00 - $250.00 per breach of the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act (2007) Sections 9 and 11. This civil infringement notice was issued on 19 April 2010. Payment was made in full and no objection to the notice was made.

Christchurch spamming investigation

On 17 December 2007 the Anti-Spam Compliance Unit seized 32 computer systems and a substantial amount of paper documentation from four Christchurch addresses. We also interviewed two Christchurch businessmen believed to be connected with the spamming operation responsible for sending spam world wide offering pharmaceutical products and watches. Read our press release (19.12.07) for more information.

On 14 October 2008 the Department announced that it has asked the High Court to impose financial penalties of $200,000 on each of three New Zealanders involved in a major international spamming operation. This is the first court action since the introduction of the anti-spam law, the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act on 5 September 2007 and follows a raid on four Christchurch addresses last December. Read our press release (14.10.08) for more information.

On 22 December 2008 the Department announced that one of three New Zealand citizens has admitted his part in a major international spamming operation and will pay a financial penalty of $100,000 plus costs of $7666. Read our press release (22.12.08) for more information.

On 2 November 2009 the Department announced that the two other people involved in this spamming operation had admitted their role and will pay financial penalties of $100,000 and $50,000. Read our press release (02.11.09) for more information.

Deemed consent

We received a number of complaints from schools who had been sent emails from businesses offering to sell them goods related to education. Further investigation revealed that the Ministry of Education had a list of all the schools in New Zealand published on their website. This meant the businesses had consent to send the emails because they were conspicuously published, work-related electronic addresses.

We advised the Ministry to add a note to the webpage stating that the addresses could not be used to send commercial electronic messages. This would mean deemed consent no longer applied. The Ministry chose to take the list off the website.

Historic promotion

We received a complaint relating to a jewellery company who had recently sent out a promotional email to various people listed on their database. We visited the companies head office, offsite administration office, company who does their marketing and bulk email provider to investigate further.

We discovered that the company ran a specific web based promotion in 2002 where entrants had an opportunity to win a pair of earrings. The conditions of entry of the competition included a clause stating that 'all entries will be added to a database and may receive promotional offers from other businesses in the future'. It also gave a contact email address should entrants want to be removed from the database.

Our investigation concluded that the jewellery company had complied with the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007. However, we did recommend that if this company were to run a similar email promotion in the future they should include a reference to where they obtained the recipients email address, as most people would not remember entering a competition in 2002.


Here you will find statistics on the number of spam complaints and scam reports we receive each month, and the number of formal warnings and infringement notices issued.

Latest Statistics
During the month of January 663 spam complaints were received in total.

The following tables are a breakdown of the type of spam, its origin and the reason for the complaint.

Spam formatNumber received
SMS (short message service i.e. text message)65

Origin of spamNumber received
New Zealand48
Note: These figures will not match the total number of complaints made during the month as they relate to other methods of reporting (including complaints made using our online Complaints Form).

Complaint reasonNumber received
I did not subscribe to this47
The message did not contain an unsubscribe facility21
Contains sexual content137
I have previously unsubscribed and message continues to be sent11
Other reasons587
Note: Complainants are able to tick more than one reason for their complaint.

Total number of scams reported this month (January)131
SMS (short message service i.e. text message)52
Phone (verbal)12
Online scams from trading or social networking websites0
Postal (letters)0
Note: These statistics relate to information on the Reported Scams page, which went live in May 2010.

Total number of scams reported this year (2011)




SMS (short message service i.e. text message)


Phone (verbal)




Online scams from trading or social networking websites


Postal (letters)

Note: These statistics relate to information on the Reported Scams page, which went live in May 2010.

YearNumber of formal warnings issued

YearNumber of infringement notices issued

Archived Statistics

January .pdf (19k)*December .pdf (20k)*
November .pdf (15k)*
October .pdf (15k)*
September .pdf (15k)*
August .pdf (15k)*
July .pdf (15k)*
June .pdf (15k)*
May .pdf (15k)*
April .pdf (10k)*
March .pdf (9k)*
February .pdf (9k)*
January .pdf (9k)*
December .pdf (9k)*
November .pdf (9k)*
October .pdf (9k)*
September .pdf (9k)*
August .pdf (9k)*
July .pdf (16k)*
June .pdf (9k)*
May .pdf (9k)*
April .pdf (8k)*
March .pdf (9k)*
February .pdf (9k)*
January .pdf (9k)*
December .pdf (9k)*
November .pdf (9k)*
October .pdf (9k)*
September .pdf (9k)*
August .pdf (9k)*
July .pdf (15k)*
June .pdf (9k)*
May .pdf (9k)*
April .pdf (9k)*
March .pdf (12k)*
February .pdf (12k)*
January .pdf (12k)*
December .pdf (12k)*
November .pdf (12k)*
October .pdf (12k)*
September .pdf (12k)*

Note: The number of spam complaints for New Zealand and overseas may be higher than the total number of recorded (archived) spam complaints. This is because each spam complaint is allocated a Complaint Reference Number to help the Department with processing. Sometimes complainants will re-use a Complaint Reference Number when they register further complaints and the system does not recognise this as a new complaint. Also complainants may include two or more spam complaints in one submission.

*This document is in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format. You need to have the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. You can download a free version from the Adobe site.