Three students were robbed at knifepoint of their mobilephones when they were deeply engrossed in playing popular game Pokemon Go on Friday in Manchester, United Kingdom.
After the incident, the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) cautioned people and urged them to be careful while playing Pokemon Go, an augmented reality (AR) game, as it has opened up another avenue for fraudsters.
Pokemon Go uses the GPS capabilities of the device in conjunction with Google Maps to place virtual creatures in real world locations, which the player then tries to find using his device as a guide.
Once in proximity to the placed creature, the player needs to use the device’s camera to view and capture it. The location tracking system used in the app could be misused by criminals to target children.
The popularity of Pokemon Go makes its player an easy target for criminals, the police said.
Pokemon Go is now reported to have become more popular than Twitter in the US.
Last week in Los Angeles, the police advised motorists not to play the smartphone game while driving, fearing a rise in traffic accidents by players who get distracted by Pokemon Go.
The police issued similar warnings in many other states in the US in the wake of robbery and traffic accidents.
The game has been introduced in Britain only in Europe and has gained popularity, experts said.
Pokemon Go is available on Google Playstore and Apple’s App Store in the US, Japan and Australia, the Philippines, New Zealand, Britain and Germany. It will soon be launched in India, Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia.
“We know that criminals move quickly to exploit the latest developments to target victims and Pokemon Go will already be in their sight. I would urge parents to speak to their children about the app and the best ways to make sure they stay safe. Talking to your child is one of the best ways to keep them safe,” GMP Detective Superintendent Joanne Rawlinson said.