Pokémon Go Craze Sparks Worries About Sex Offenders, Cybercriminals
BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The Pokémon Go app has been all the rage in recent days, but new concerns have mounted about criminals abusing the game.
As CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported, there are worries that sex offenders might use the app to lure children, and cybercriminals might steal people's information.
Sulma Rivas is part of a Pokémon Go scavenger hunt adventure craze. So are her three children.
Rivas keeps a watchful eye.
"I don't want to do it when my mom's not around, because I could get hurt," said Mylie Rivas, 10.
Pokémon Go is exploding in popularity, and Babylon town officials have been monitoring hundreds of people of all ages circling the lake in Argyle Park – with their heads down and their smartphones in hand.
When asked if he was playing unsupervised, Ethan Fortaleza, 12, smiled and said, "Maybe."
Ethan said his parents dropped him off in a safe area. But county officials are worried about the luring component of the game.
With 38,000 registered sex offenders in New York state, police fear that it might be easy for someone to fake a Pokémon Go ID and stalk a child player.
"The people who are the quickest to adapt to new trends in social media technology are criminals and predators," said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
Bellone wants Pokémon developer Niantic to install e-stop technology, making it tougher for predators to sign on and demanding more checks and balances.
After downloading the app, players are asked to sign up with their Google accounts, using existing credentials to ensure the process is fast and simple. But that can put at risk users' emails, cameras, photos, and storage.
That pool of data could be a boon for cybercriminals.
"I haven't heard anything about that. That would be unfortunate," said Samara Katini, 21. "I probably wouldn't play the game if that was a real problem."
One computer crimes expert asked whether the possibility of privacy invasion was worth the tradeoff for the experience of Pokémon Go
Ninatic said it is working closely with authorities to keep all players safe. The company said it has no plans to share the data it collects with third parties.
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