It hasn’t taken very long for the Pokemon Go app to become the most downloaded phone app in the United States and it is equally popular around the world.   As I am sure you all know, the Pokemon Go app uses the popular Pokemon characters from twenty years ago and has updated them into a virtual reality game and, using GPS, allows gamers to  go out in the real world with their smartphones and catch Pokemon characters in the blended real and virtual worlds.  Of course, anything this popular will be used in some fashion to scam people and Pokemon Go is no exception to this rule.

The Pokemon Go app is free.  Nintendo and Niantic Labs, the developers of the new Pokemon Go app make money when gamers use real money to buy virtual currency called PokeCoins which gamers can use to purchase items to enhance the game experience such as eggs which hatch rare Pokemon or incense to lure Pokemon to their location.  Scam artists, the only criminals we refer to as artists are sending people emails such as the following, attempting to lure their victims into paying them to continue playing Pokemon Go.

“We regret to inform you that due to the overwhelming response to our new Pokemon Go app and the need for more powerful servers we can no longer afford to keep your account as free.  Your account will be frozen in 24 hours if you do not upgrade.”

You are then told to sign up for the new upgraded version at a cost of $12.99 per month.  People signing up for the service risk not only losing money, but turning over passwords and other personal information to a scammer who can use that information to make you a victim of identity theft.


So how do Erica and everyone else playing Pokemon Go protect themselves from these scams?  Here is a list of important steps to take.

  1.  Remember that Pokemon Go is a free app and Nintendo is not charging for upgrades.  Any notices you receive to the contrary are scams and should be ignored.
  2.  Install the updated version of the Pokemon Go app since the original version unintentionally invaded your privacy by providing full access to your Google account.
  3. Use a strong password and make sure that you don’t use the same password for your Pokemon Go account for any other account.
  4. Make sure that your smartphone is protected with security software and keep it up to date with the latest security patches.