Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Pokemon Go Traps People Are Falling For

Now that Pokémon Go has penetrated the barrier between fiction and reality, its rich mythology is making its way into the real world...but some of these stories are even stranger than fiction. The app's popularity has opened a wellspring of misinformation about events surrounding the hunt for augmented reality pocket monsters. Here are a few of the more bizarre hoaxes and why they're absolutely not true—and why some actually are.

Sibling stabbing

No, a Florida kid named Timmy did not stab his younger brother to death after a misunderstanding about deleted Pokémon. While the unchecked story spread like chlamydia on social media sites, many readers failed to realize that the fake story originated from Cartel Press, a website which specializes in intentionally fake news. While many of their headlines are obviously satirical, such as "Zoo claims gorilla had ties to ISIS," the story of Timmy offered no humor in its retelling. Even if you ignore the completely fake nature of the site, there are absolutely no incidents reported in Jacksonville similar to this event. Additionally, you don't even really delete Pokémon; you just trade them in for delicious candies. Get with it, noob.

(You'll begin to notice that Cartel Press is a trend here.)

The $500 million lawsuit

Another story that traces back to Cartel Press is the tale of Charley, who wandered into the street while playing Pokémon Go, was hit by a car, and is now suing app makers Niantic for $500 million. While the post's language is much more obviously a parody of the frivolous litigation trend, readers were once again fooled: to date, Niantic has not been the subject of any Pokémon Go-related injury lawsuits.

Vice interviewed Cartel Press owner Pablo Reyes, whose only reasoning for spreading paranoia was this: "People always expect something anyways so if you write about it beforehand it's like you predicted it." Psychic-type Pokémon, look out. You've got some competition.


Bad neighborhood

Because the bogus news from Onion-wannabe Cartel Press never ends, we can also confirm that "Marcus Jackson" did not get stabbed during his Pokémon adventures because he (and we quote), "didn't realize he had stepped into what is know [sic] as a bad neighborhood."

Also from Cartel, and therefore inherently false: the rumor of the highway Pikachu hundred-car pileup, and ISIS taking credit for Pokémon Go login issues.

True, however, is the remarkably similar story of Michael Baker, who was stabbed while playing in Forest Grove, OR. The player initially refused treatment for his injuries so that he could continue playing, but later sought medical attention, according to an interview with KATU 2 News.


No trespassing

Another fake news site reported that a kid named "Arthur Disby" was shot when he entered the house of an aging widow in order to catch a wild Pokémon. While The National Report is another veiled satire site, many readers believed that the story was completely real, based on comments left on the page. There have been no confirmed reports of breaking and entering in order to catch imaginary monsters, primarily due to the fact that you simply don't need to be that close to a Pokémon to be able to capture it. Based on the game's geolocation, you can usually catch any Pokémon that happens to pop up within the borders of a building without actually entering it. And now you know.

Simpsons did it

While The Simpsons has been prescient about plenty of things, internet hoaxes often give the show more credit than it deserves. Despite popular opinion, the show did not predict Donald Trump's campaign announcement, nor did it anticipate the creation of Pokémon Go. In a currently popular meme, a four-fingered, yellow hand points at an empty corner while a smartphone in the other hand displays a Pikachu. Efforts have been made to make this truly look like an older screencap from the show, but it's all Photoshop, folks. Thank Snopes for debunking the deception, and even pinpointing the exact episode where the original images were borrowed. It's "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation," if you want to see for yourself.

The inevitable fee

If you want to send someone into a panic, tell them that they'll have to pay for a once-free service. Like the hundreds of "Facebook fee" scares that preceded them, the Pokémon Go fee rumors are false. Seeing an opportunity to ride the wave of the game, scammers began sending out emails claiming that Pokémon Go would soon cost $12.99 per month to play, mostly so Niantic could beef up their straining servers...and apparently augment the fortune already being spent in the app's shop. Niantic has not announced a fee, nor do they have any plans to, which has been confirmed by The Verge. Scammers, however, have been using these fake announcements to collect users' personal information. Don't fall for it.

Land Down Under

And no, Australian police are not targeting Pokémon Go players, despite a popular image that's been circulating online. While the image does come from a real sign in Australia, it's also been the subject of countless manipulations over the years. There's no reason for police officers to target users of an app about imaginary animal poaching. They almost definitely have more real poaching to worry about. We're not certain how many people actually believed this one, but Snopes debunked it anyhow.

The murder witness

According to initial accounts, an Uber driver named Alex Ramirez was streaming his Pokémon Go adventures between stops and witnessed a body being tossed out of a car. He subsequently called 911, gave the location of the body, and reported being followed by the murderers...all before getting fired by Uber. The video was convincing enough that a few top YouTube hoax debunkers fell for it, but none actually bothered to verify their sources. Gizmodo reports that calls to the local police revealed that there were no bodies found, nor any murders matching that description. Calls to Uber also revealed that they hadn't fired anyone over a Pokémon incident, only temporarily suspended a driver after rider complaints. GoFundMe quickly pulled the page set up to help Ramirez feed his family since he'd lost his imaginary job, and the whole thing was revealed to be a huge publicity stunt—and possibly pretty serious fraud.

Happy Birthday

It's hard to resist the call, even when a Pidgey is perched on your wife's hospital bed. Refreshingly, this story is completely true. The Telegraph reports that a player named Jonathan Theriot felt a buzz midway through his wife's labor pains, and it wasn't just excitement for a new family member. He proceeded to toss Pokéballs at a low-level Pidgey. While ostensibly inconsiderate of his wife's plight, it paints a perfect snapshot of world pop culture at the event of his kid's birth, so maybe it's just the best delivery room picture ever.