AdaptiveMobile warns of Pokémon Go SMS scam threat

While the Pokémon Go phenomenon has spread worldwide at an unprecedented rate, the popularity of the game could lead to trickster campaigns, warns mobile security company AdaptiveMobile.

As with any topic, product or craze which has risen through the ranks of popularity in such a short period of time, AdaptiveMobile believes the risk of scammer or fraudulent SMS campaigns for Pokémon Go is high. The same story could be seen with the recent Brexit vote, which seemingly re-kindled the British affection towards politics, as numerous SMS scams leant on the economic fears of recipients following the vote. Adaptive believes due to the vast spread of the Pokémon Go game over the last couple of weeks, it could be the perfect front for future SMS scams.

“Over the last few weeks Ninatic’s location-based augmented reality game Pokémon GO has rapidly become something of a world phenomenon,” said Seamus Mac Grianna of the Threat Intelligence Unit at AdaptiveMobile. “It is now one of the world’s most popular mobile applications – recently reaching over 100 million downloads. While this explosion in popularity may be good for the developers of the game, it makes fans of the game far more vulnerable to cybercrime.”

“At AdaptiveMobile, we are used to seeing spam that is topical and in line with current affairs. Anytime an issue captures the public’s attention spammers will often try to capitalise on this popularity by sending spam containing content related to that issue.”

One of the more prominent SMS scams focused on Pokémon Go in recent weeks has been an SMS campaign which entices users to visit a website called The website has since been closed and labelled as a phishing website after it messaged thousands of users in North America asking for referrals with the promise of additional features for the game as a reward. Another offered Pokécoins, the games currency, once referrals had been made, asking users to input their login details on the website. This website has also subsequently been shut down.

SMS scam campaigns are nothing new to the industry, and for the most part the general public are able to spot the difference between legitimate and fraudulent, however for such scams to continue there must be a small level of success. With the Pokémon Go phenomenon set to continue and the money generated by the app snow-balling, it is unlikely this is the last of the scam campaigns.

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