Pokémon Go Scams: Gotta Catch ‘em All!

The world is going nuts about virtual monsters and scammers are already taking advantage. Do you know what to look out for to protect your site and users from Pokémon go scams?

Experienced content moderators know the need to stay updated on the latest trends, and when something is topping headlines around the world it will likely be reflected in classifieds and marketplace listings. The reason is pretty simple; humans tend to take bigger risks when there is a sense of urgency, a chance to obtaining something rare or an opportunity to acquire that latest thing everyone’s talking about.

Scammers are moving fast (as always) and we have seen many examples of bad Pokémon related content out there already. Here is what you need to know to protect monster-hunting users from getting defrauded:

Pokemon Go Plus – the Steaming Hot Accessory Not yet Released

Pokémon Go Plus is a wearable accessory that will enhance the Pokémon Go experience by alerting you to nearby Pokéstops and allowing you to catch monsters without having to use your smartphone. It looks like a plastic button, shaped as a Pokéball mixed with a Google plus pin, and can be worn as a bracelet or be clipped onto your lapel.

Pokémon Go Plus is not yet officially on the market. The release date is not announced, but rumors say August 10th.

Since the pre-orders are already sold out, the demand is really high and we have seen several listings claiming to have Pokémon Go Plus in stock, often at a price much higher than the official price of 35 US dollars.

How to moderate:

Make sure you remove all ads claiming to sell Pokémon Go Plus, until it’s officially released. Educate your moderators and adjust your profanity filters and automation rules to “catch ‘em all”.

pokemon go plus device

Driver Services and Pokétaxis

Are you looking for someone to drive you around the best areas for catching rare monsters while listening to Pokémon theme music? No problem, there are plenty of people offering these types of services. Even though it sounds like a fun way to spend a Friday night, it is really not recommended to jump into a stranger’s car, or let a stranger into your own vehicle. Drivers often claim to be Pokémon Go Experts (even though the game has only been out for a couple of weeks) and promise to share their secret tips to find legendary Pokémons like: Mewtwo, Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres.

How to moderate:

You have to put the safety of your users first and we recommend that you don’t allow these types of listings. Just think of the consequences if a serious crime was committed after an initial contact at your platform. Apart from the personal tragedies of those involved, how would that affect the trust in your business?

pokemon sitting on top of a car

Phones with Pre-Installed Pokémon Go Apps

Since Pokémon Go is not yet launched in all countries, there is a market for phones with the game already installed. “New technology” is a category constantly targeted by scammers and even though the actual phone in these cases might not be new, the Pokémon app itself makes it just as hot a target.

How to moderate:

Go through all the usual precautions for high-risk content. Have a list of market prices for various phone models handy and be suspicious of anything that seems “too cheap”.

pokemon go on a phone

Pokémon Go Accounts

Are your skills as a Pokémon trainer not just where you want to be? Or perhaps you just don’t feel like starting from scratch? We have seen sellers offering accounts already played to a certain level, including a number of Pokémons that have already been caught.

Videogame related products/services in general, such as coins for FIFA Ultimate or codes for Xbox live or PSN, are very commonly used by fraudsters already. Even though there might be some legit sellers, it’s a category to keep a close eye on.

How to moderate:

We recommend that you simply don’t allow this type of videogame ads, basically because it’s such a common scam-tactic. If you however decide to allow them, make sure you check the history of the seller. Is he/she known and well-reputed?

How Will the Trend Evolve?

As Pokémon Go matures, the nature of the content published on classifieds sites and marketplaces will change. Some of the above will disappear as soon as the game is released worldwide, other patterns will emerge as the game evolves. You have to stay on your toes, keep a close eye on the latest trends, continuously train your team and update your automation rules to keep ahead of scammers.

 

Whats the next big trend to watch out for? Find out with our scam awareness calendar.

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