The sudden success of Pokémon GO has scammers cooking up ways to cash in on the app's popularity. The latest is a phishing email that fools victims into thinking they need to pay for the game.
How the Scam Works:
You receive an email addressed to Pokémon GO players. The message reads: "due to the overwhelming response to our new Pokémon GO app and the need for more powerful servers we can no longer afford to keep your account as free." The developers are now charging $12.99 a month, and your account will be frozen if you don't upgrade.
The email urges you to click a link, log in to the app store and purchase the "full version." Don't do it! The log-in form isn't run by an official app store or Ninatic Labs, the game's developers. It's on a third party site, and it is a way to steal users' passwords.
Unfortunately, this is not the only Pokémon GO scam out there. Before the app launched, scammers lured victims with the promise of getting early beta test access to the game. Then, a fake version of the game appeared in some app stores. As long as the app stays popular, scammers will devise new ways to fool players.
How to Spot a Phishing Scam:
- Be wary of unexpected emails that contain links or attachments. Do not click on links or open files in unfamiliar emails.
- Check the reply email address. One easy way to spot an email scam is to look at the reply email. The address should be on a company domain, such as email@example.com.
- Don't believe what you see. Just because an email looks real, doesn't mean it is. Scammers can fake anything from a company logo to the "Sent" email address.
- Consider how the organization normally contacts you. If an organization normally reaches you by mail, be suspicious if you suddenly start receiving emails or text messages without ever opting in to the new communications.
- Be cautious of generic emails. Scammers try to cast a wide net by including little or no specific information in their fake emails. Be especially wary of messages you have not subscribed to or companies you have never done business with in the past.
For More Information
Read Variety's coverage of the scam on their website.
To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper (bbb.org/scam). To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker).