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Ways Pokemon Go Is Already Ruining Lives

Since the launch of Pokémon Go on July 7, 2016, the app has been downloaded hundreds of millions of times. People around the world have gone crazy for the augmented-reality installment in the long-running series, which allows users to catch Pokémon, battle at Gyms, and collect items in the world around them. But Pokémon Go isn't all fun and games; some players have found injuries, criminals, and even death on their adventures.

Gotta catch 'em all

For Android owners, be wary when downloading Pokémon Go from any source other than the Google Play store. The Android operating system allows users—particularly those who have "rooted" their mobile device—the ability to download .apk files to install on their phone. For Pokémon fans living in countries that can't download the app officially yet, these files are the only way for them to get early access to the game. Additionally, some .apk files are targeted at players who want to game the system. These "cheat" versions of the app supposedly allow them to spoof their GPS location in order to visit Gyms and catch Pokémon without leaving their couch. Enterprising hackers have taken advantage of the demand for these files, releasing versions of Pokémon Go packed with viruses that take control of the user's phone.

What are you doing in my backyard?

Pokémon Go developers Niantic previously released another augmented-reality game, Ingress. In this app, users are encouraged to visit and claim local points of interest for their team, like a global game of capture the flag. Users also could submit their own ideas for landmarks to be added to the game. These points of interest were re-used by Niantic when developing the map used by Pokémon Go. Unfortunately, this has led to some mishaps and confusion for players trying to visit certain Gyms and Pokéstops. In Australia, one local police station took to social media to ask players to please stop wandering into their station in search of Pikachu. Massachusetts resident Boon Sheridan has it even worse: he bought an old church in 2015 and converted it into a home. The church was previously an Ingress portal, and is now a Gym in Pokémon Go. Sheridan reported to Buzzfeed that he's lost count of the number of players who have shown up to his residence at all hours of the day and night. Unfortunately, Niantic has no option on their website to request a location be changed, so Sheridan has made the best of the situation, venturing outside to meet some of the visitors.

Is that a Squirtle in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?

Enterprising criminals in O'Fallon, Missouri used the allure of Pokémon Go to draw unsuspecting players into traps. The criminals placed "lure modules" on Pokéstops in remote locations and waited for adventurers to come running. The modules increase the chance of Pokémon appearing nearby, which attracts more trainers to the location. After an unlucky player showed up, the thieves relieved them of their belongings at gunpoint. There were 11 such incidents in the O'Fallon and St. Louis area over the span of a few days. Eventually the quartet of criminals was captured following another stick-up, and they were charged with first-degree armed robbery.

That's definitely not a water-type…

In rural Wyoming, Pokémon Go trainer Shayla Wiggins set out to catch some rare 'mon in her community. The 19-year-old slipped on her sandals and headed down to the Big Wind River, in hopes of catching a water-type Pokémon; instead, she found much more than she was bargaining for. As she walked down the bank of the river, Wiggins focused on her phone, scanning the map for signs a Pokémon might be lurking nearby. When she eventually paused to look up and examine her surroundings, it took her a moment to notice the dead man lying nearby. "I guess I was only paying attention to my phone and where I was walking," she said. When Wiggins realized that she was standing just a few steps away from a corpse, she called the police. The Fremont County Sheriff's Office haven't identified the deceased man yet, but they did state that they believe his death was accidental in nature.

Prepare for trouble, and make it double

It seems Niantic may have foreseen some of the issues related to would-be Pokémon trainers with their faces buried in their phones. When you start up the game, a warning cautions trainers to stay aware of their surroundings, but there have still been a spate of players who were a just little too focused on catching that Flareon and ended up with various injuries to show for it. Lindsay Plunkett, a 23-year-old waitress in Asheville, N.C., tripped over a cinderblock while playing the game and earned a colorful bruise on her right shin. Kyrie Tompkins, a freelance web designer from Maine, fell on the sidewalk and twisted her ankle while searching for Pokémon in her downtown area. Redditor /u/Amalthea- claimed that their Pokémon Go adventure ended up with a trip to the local emergency room. "Not even 30 minutes after the release last night, I slipped and fell down a ditch. Fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in my foot, 6-8 weeks for recovery. I told all the doctors I was walking my dog lol... Watch where you're going, folks!"

Blasting off at the speed of light

While we expected people to get fired from their jobs for playing too much Pokémon Go, we weren't expecting someone to get fired for NOT playing it—until we heard about Sonny Truyen. The Australian ex-pat had recently relocated to Singapore in order to take a job as a vice-president of marketing for 99.co, an online real estate portal. When Truyen found out that Pokémon Go was not available to play in Singapore yet, he took to social media to vent his frustration publicly. "You can't f****** catch Pokemon in this piece of f****** s*** country," he complained. Naturally, many native Singaporeans took issue with his language insulting their homeland, and started arguing with him online. Instead of apologizing for his outburst, Truyen doubled down on the rhetoric, claiming that he was there for work because the locals "can't even read" and were only good at "mouthing off." It didn't take long for those self-same locals to get in contact with Truyen's employer about his online behavior. One commenter, Roy Phang, wrote: "Not my place to comment on your hiring decisions but if my director of marketing makes a boo-boo like that so publicly, it doesn't reflect well on the company. Just saying." Apparently, 99.co agreed wholeheartedly, and Truyen found himself fired from his position with the company the very same day.