Armed robbers use Pokémon Go to lure teenage players into trap
Pokemon Go, the wildly-popular smartphone game that requires players to scout out real-world locations to collect Pokémon, was used by criminals in Missouri to rob 11 teenagers at gunpoint.
Police were called to a shopping centre at 2am on Sunday morning to respond to reports of armed robbery. They described how the robbers had used the augmented-reality smartphone game to lure teenagers to their black BMW in a secluded area.
Pokémon Go, which launched last week, encourages users to walk to different areas of their neighbourhood to collect the animated creatures. Users hold up their smartphone in front of them and the game superimposes a Pokémon over the image of the real world, which they must then catch.
The four robbers, who were apprehended by police with a handgun, used the game's location technology to create a signal at a "Pokéstop" - a location that players can visit to replenish in-game supplies. By finding a Pokestop in a secluded area and creating a beacon they were able to lure 11 players aged between 16 and 18 on Sunday night before they were caught.
"If you use this app (or other similar type apps) or have children that do we ask you to please use caution when alerting strangers of your future location," the O'Fallon city police said.
"Many of you have asked how the app was used to rob victims, the way we believe it was used is you can add a beacon to a Pokéstop to lure more players. Apparently they were using the app to locate ppl [sic] standing around in the middle of a parking lot or whatever other location they were in."
Three of the suspects, aged 17 and 18, were charged with robbery and armed criminal action, while the fourth, a minor, was transferred to a juvenile justice centre.
Pokémon Go, which launched last week in Australia and the US, has instantly become wildly popular, with the thousands of people downloading the game sending Nintendo's shares soaring.
But it has also led to several bizarre situations. Australian police have warned that players have become so engrossed in the game that they are forgetting to look before they cross the road, while one player in Wyoming stumbled across a dead body.