A brand new "Pokémon Go" phishing scam is in full effect, with scammers already doing their best to take advantage of the new gaming craze by bilking unsuspecting gamers into giving up their account credentials under threat of losing their ability to play the addictive AR mobile game.
The scam involves an email claiming that users must sign up for a new $12.99 paid version of Pokémon GO within 24 hours or else their account will be frozen.
As the Pokémon GO craze sweeps the world, scammers and unscrupulous persons of one type or another are also ramping up their efforts to use the addictive gaming trend to promote their own illegal activities. When the app became almost impossible to download from official, legitimate sources, users, especially those in areas where the game has not yet been released (everywhere other than the U.S., Australia and New Zealand), turned to third party app stores to try and score a download, only to find that one version was able to actually take control of devices on which the app was installed.
Other reports have surfaced indicating that scammers have lured unsuspecting gamers to locations in which, rather than collecting the cute animated creatures for which the game is named, players were instead robbed by waiting thugs.
Now, a new phishing scam has emerged in which avid Pokémon GO fans are targeted via an email which informs them that unless they sign up for a paid version of the game, they will no longer be able to play or access their account.
"We regret to inform you that due to the overwhelming response to our new Pokémon GO app and the need for more powerful servers we can no longer afford to keep your account as free. Your account will be frozen in 24 hours if you do not upgrade," the email reads.
The email claims the new terms of service require a monthly fee of $12.99 to play the game, and provides links to third party servers which are designed to steal users' email passwords and credit card account information.
While Niantic Labs, maker of the popular game, does offer purchases of virtual goods via the app in lieu of users exploring the real world augmented reality environment, the app itself is free of charge as is the ability to use it indefinitely. Niantic has also stated that it hopes to expand globally after aborting its intended rollout to Europe and other territories because its servers were overloaded this past weekend, and users should be wary of downloading any versions of the app from unofficial channels.