ANDREW FERGUSON -- Andrew Ferguson executes spammers through Denial of Service attacks on their phone lines. His arsenal includes a SkypeOut account and it's very cost-effective. Like many of the spams from Nigeria that I get, Ferguson was irritated so he picked up the phone and decided to call the spammer. Ferguson used SkypeOut at early morning hours. This tied up the spammer's phone line for hours on end. This is an easy way to get back at a spammer and it can be automated through the Skype APIs while leveraging Skype cost advantages.
If you use Skype for anything, you leverage an inherent cost imbalance. My SkypeOut account costs me no more than €10 for ten hours of calls, providing I buy in blocks of 20 hours at a time. Although I normally use the hours to call family in the States, I could ring a Nigerian 419 number for the same cost.
If I call the spammer, I cost him money because I block his line from potential revenue callers.
If I automate my Skype calls, I could get an even greater break on fees. Automating Skype calls means I avoid the per-call charges. Skype merely charges me for the time on the call. I can set the time of call to three seconds or less, sometimes totally avoiding the international call charge. The spammer normally answers, says "Hello! Hello?" a few times, and wastes time while holding open a connection. That also blocks incoming revenue calls. One programmer needs around 20 minutes to set up this devious SkypeOut anti-spammer service.
If you're part of a Smart Mob that wants to play this game together, you could post newly emerging Nigerian phone numbers to a listserve and invite your friends to Skype away. You could also pick a few new targets with your Skype script, even letting your script select random targets.
CAUTION: You need to ensure the spammer has not given the number of a hospital or an airport control tower and that you're not calling an honest citizen.
CAUTION: Do not program a SkypeOut script to ring a mobile phone number because you do not get the three second advantage. You pay for every minute consumed on a mobile phone connection.
By the way, if this kind of Skype attack hits you, it might be easiest to change your number. It is difficult to beat a Denial of Service attack on a plain old telephone number. I don't think Skype would cooperate in releasing data related to the email address or credit card number of a person who booked a SkypeOut number.