Let me preface this by saying that, according to my Skype profile, I live in Vatican City.
I am also 116 years old.
Female-presenting people have a tough time with internet creepers, but I kind of figured these two things would help filter out the kind of doggs who’re all about trolling random social media profiles– even if they didn’t strictly believe me, why would they waste their time messaging me on the off chance that a supercentanarian nun was actually a nubile, independently wealthy underwear model?
Doggs of Skype, I vastly underestimated you.
First, it should be noted that these are not all legit Skype accounts. When I had inexplicably gotten fifteen(!) of these messages over the course of a single evening, I let some of them sit until I could get around to deleting and blocking them because operating Skype is, at the best of times, somewhat akin to injecting a basket full of eels with barbiturates and making them play Dance Dance Revolution. In the three days it took me to get around to getting rid of them (and accumulating ten more in the process), I saw one of these dudes change names and ethnicities no less than four times.
Clicking on their profiles yields some additional clues– while the names attached to their profiles are (usually) very common names in Anglophone countries and their profile pictures are invariably of basic middle-aged white dudes, their actual usernames are either random strings of characters or rendered in non-Latin alphabets. It kind of makes one doubt that DOCTOR JHONATHEN SMYTH is really who he says he is, you dig?
But hey, whatev. I’m not going to judge a book by its unintuitive title and very-obviously-lifted-off-of-Google-Image-Search cover. That’d be mean. Fortunately, their first message is an opportunity to delve deeper into the hopes, dreams, and inner psyche of the Wild Skype Rando.
An acquaintance of mine told me about an article they’d read about this phenomenon, saying that the people behind these accounts deliberately use misspellings and nonstandard grammar in order to weed out people that aren’t good “marks.” In essence, it means that someone who is likely to read and respond to these messages as if they’re legitimate is also more likely to capitulate once the inevitable “send money plz” phase begins. I don’t know if I necessarily agree– at best, I think these Skype users are a little off in their concept of human behavior if they think these messages are going to get them anywhere.
For example, I don’t know too many people who’re rushing to open up a checkbook for this:
Granted, there are some messages that come from blatantly fraudulent sources. For example, you’d be amazed at how many top-level U.S. military officials apparently troll Skype for friends. (And like to use their Wikipedia headshots for social media, no less!) Others, it’s a little harder to tell. I’ve tried reverse-image-searching a couple profile pictures here and there, but they’re often pixelated to a degree that makes detection difficult.
Then there are some guys that don’t try pretending to be a U.S. General. They just make things up and it is completely bananas.
In short, being a human person on the internet is tough, particularly if you’re a person who identifies as a lady. Not even being in close proximity to a Pope and also older than the sun is enough to protect you from the slings and arrows of outrageous Skype randos. It’s a weird world.