Pokémon Go Acquaintance Turns Out to Be Yakuza, Blackmails Player
Everyone born within the last three decades, give or take, knows the Pokémon world’s organized crime syndicate Team Rocket. The mafia-like group’s vague goals and ineffectual members prevent Team Rocket from doing any real harm by the time Ash and friends come to save the day. However, the Pokémon franchise now has a connection to the truly dangerous, real-life Japanese yakuza.
Police announced on Wednesday that they arrested a 26-year-old male executive member of Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s biggest yakuza group. The man from Misato, Saitama allegedly blackmailed a fellow Pokémon Go player to get money.
According to a unit of the police’s organized crime counter-measure division, the suspect extorted money from a 23-year-old male company employee in Tokyo’s Katsushika ward at the end of July. The yakuza executive allegedly took 150,000 yen (about US$1,436) in cash from the victim under the pretense of demanding reimbursement for repair costs for a car window that he claimed the victim damaged. The yakuza executive admitted to his crime, according to police.
A week prior to the incident, the victim had been playing Pokémon Go late at night in a park. The yakuza member was also playing the augmented reality game in the park, and the two men became acquaintances. The yakuza executive later informed the victim that he was a member of the criminal organization and forced the man to do tasks such as helping drive cars.
It may be tempting to play Pokémon Go at night, especially to take advantage of the game’s current Halloween campaign. But trainers should be aware that at least one player has died while playing the game at night in a park. Pokémon Go has also been linked to various injuries and arrests, some due to overzealous or distracted players. Other gamers have found many circumstances under which it is unwise to play the game.
The moral of the story is to have fun while neither committing crimes or falling victim to them due to distraction. Feel free to catch ’em all, but prepare for trouble, or someone might make it double.