How long before Skype Ltd. ends up as an item for bid on eBay? Ever since its acquisition by the Internet auction site, Skype has been a rudderless boat — and without a captain, following the departure of cofounder Niklas Zennstrom, who took £2.8 billion of Skype’s £5.2 billion value with him. Now, after a wave of complaints regarding Skype’s complete lack of real-time customer service, comes a new trend: Skype spam.
There’s always been some spam on Skype. Beyond VoIP blogger Marc Robins identified Skype spam as “an alarming trend” nearly a year ago. Skype user message boards devoted to spam go back well into 2006; the spammers back then ranged from online casinos to Chinese jibberish.
Robins suggested in February 2007 that Skype should create a Do Not Spam list with heavily sanctioned fines for offenders, in the model of the national Do Not Call list for telemarketers. Instead, it seems the opposite has happened. Skype’s user database has been mined and turned into a To Call list that includes you.
Perhaps it was a desperate gambit by eBay to squeeze some blood from its costly turnip, or possibly lazy oversight by Skype’s corporate overlord that’s now damaging its product’s good standing in the wired marketplace. What one blogger noted as an “alarming trend” a year ago is now taking sharper focus, and more people are paying attention.
In December Jeremy Wagstaff, a tech columnist for The Wall Street Journal and blogger at Loose Wire, received his first Skype spam from “Veronica Sexy,” who billed herself as the “REAL MISS WEB CAM” and couldn’t wait to “get real nasty and show off.” When Wagstaff tried chatting with Veronica, her sex-bot automation directed him to her site, SkyperSex, which is headquartered in — you guessed it — Moscow.
Andy Melton wrote on his blog TechButter that he’s felt the change recently, too. “What is the deal with all this Skype spam?" Melton wrote early this month. "I have never been inundated like this before.” While he had received some calls from Chinese people in the past, he said lately there was an “influx.”
Now not only do the Chinese keep calling, they are leaving him voice mail. He even received one cryptic spam call that said, “Hello, FBI.” Melton advised his readers that there isn’t much you can do to avoid the spam, except to make sure you don’t click the links they send you.