As successful communication spreads, so does the rise of scammers and Skype has not been spared. Worse, some Skype scams are particularly cruel and disturbing involving everything from blackmail to broken hearts. Discover the different types of Skype scams and how to avoid them.
As the people of the world connect through the Internet, text messaging, and social media, Skype (or Skype Technologies) is yet another method of interacting. A telecommunications software, Skype connects users through voice calls, video chat, and instant messaging (IM).
The company’s processes have expanded to include connections between more than computers alone – users can use Skype over a desktop computer or laptop, mobile smartphones, tablet, Xbox One console, smartwatch, or even utilize a feature where Internet-based calls can transmit to landline telephone services for a small fee. While Skype’s instant messaging features focus on video or text messages (in the form of photos, images, graphics, or texts), even businesses can get in on the action with Skype’s video conference calls.
Scam #1: Your Worst Nightmare
Imagine a video of you in a compromising or intimate situation being shared with the world. Worse, what if the same video was directly sent to each of your relatives – your mother or father, adult children, cousins or aunts, and uncles? Or, what if the video showed you being unfaithful online, and was sent your spouse or significant other?
One example of this was covered by BBC news. A young man from Palestine (we will call him “Abed”), living abroad added a stranger on Facebook, per her friend request. Not only was his new add incredibly beautiful, but he soon found out she was very passionate and claimed to love sex.
With his girlfriend out of town, he agrees to communicate with her over Skype’s video chat, assuming it was an exciting NSA moment of fun. Via video, she was as beautiful and sexy and commented finding him attractive. With one compliment leading to another, until they engage in masturbation as she directs him to show his face as well as his penis.
What happened once it was over?
Within a half hour, “Abed” was being blackmailed online for over 6,000 dollars (5,000 euros). A man messaged and claimed that he had the video and unless “Abed” sent him the money, he would transmit the video to all of the man’s friends and family and even post it to YouTube. And the woman he communicated with? Likely pre-recorded video from a pornography website.
Scam #2: Malware
Although scam #1 is awful enough to imagine, another Skype scam is even more covert. It is when a Scammer has malware installed on your computer, without you knowing. From there, the scammer can operate your webcam and, worse, record multiple images of you without your knowledge!
The camera’s indicator light isn’t a dead giveaway of being hacked as even this can be disabled by the scammer. By recording embarrassing things, users can then be blackmailed, much like in scam #1.
Use Social Catfish to check to verify the identity of the stranger you met online through Skype:
How to Avoid Skype Scams
- Only interact with those you know, even when it is tempting. It’s unlikely a stranger would add or message you on Skype without knowing you.
- If someone friend requests you through another platform (like Facebook) and immediately wants to video chat on Skype, don’t take a chance.
- If someone or something on Skype (or the internet in general!) seems too reasonable to be true, it probably is.
- Update your virus scan or malware/ security software, before using the Internet.
- If you take off your clothes online, do so at your own risk. It’s impossible to know if you’re secretly being recorded for later blackmail. Do not assume the person you’re sharing the experience with, over Skype, is the only one seeing it.
- Always remember that many people create fake online personas and pretend to be someone they aren’t.
- Keep your details to yourself – name, address, job, etc.
- If you are scammed, don’t blame yourself. It happens to many users daily.
If You Have Been Threatened, Take Action!
Scammers who blackmail others trust you to be scared and give them what they want (usually money).
If you find yourself being coerced:
- Save the information in a file or folder on your computer and make printed copies. Use it to report your experience to the police.
- Paying a Blackmailing Scammer doesn’t mean they won’t try and get money in future!
- Warn friends and family that someone is blackmailing you and not to open any emails addressed from you.
- Block the scammer! At least then you can show them you are not going to be an easy victim and they may give up!
- Report fraud or blackmail to Skype directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Even if you avoid video chat on Skype, you might still reveal personal details which can be used against you. Proceed with caution!
Also, use Social Catfish to check that strangers’ identity you met online through Skype: