Gotta Arrest ‘Em All: Man Busted for Selling Illegal Pokémon in Online Black Market Bonanza

Caught ’em all, and cuffed: Japanese police nab a man for selling illegally modified Pokémon. He pocketed a small fortune with his gaming black market—until the law used its master ball. #GottaArrestEmAll

Hot Take:

Who knew that the world of Pokémon could spew out a real-life Team Rocket member? Yoshihiro Yamakawa, the aspiring Giovanni of save data, has been caught red-handed, proving that sometimes, the line between virtual crime and actual crime is as thin as a Zubat’s wingspan. Gotta catch ’em all, or in this case, gotta catch ’em all… and sell ’em for a profit!

Key Points:

  • 36-year-old Yoshihiro Yamakawa was arrested for selling illegally modified Pokémon characters from the Nintendo Switch games Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.
  • Yamakawa violated the Unfair Competition Prevention Act, using an online tool to alter the game’s save data and conducting his business on an online gaming marketplace.
  • Japanese cyber patrol caught Yamakawa offering deals like “6 Pokémon for only $30,” targeting players seeking rare and hard-to-train monsters.
  • This is not a novel incident; a similar case occurred in 2021 involving the Pokémon Sword and Shield games.
  • Yamakawa’s illicit enterprise allegedly raked in millions of yen, with single custom monsters fetching up to 13,000 yen (about $85).

Need to know more?

A Poké-Perp in the Pixelated Flesh

Ever thought your childhood dream of becoming a Pokémon master could land you in the clink? Meet Yoshihiro Yamakawa, the man who turned Pokémon training into an underground business. Instead of exploring tall grass for rare finds, customers just needed to hit up Yamakawa online for their dose of pre-trained digital glory. Apparently, he took "catching 'em all" a little too seriously and turned it into a business model.

When the Cyber Patrol Plays Pokémon Go

The Kochi Prefectural police's cyber patrol didn't need a Master Ball to catch this suspect. They just needed a good ol' fashioned digital stakeout to spot Yamakawa offering deals that would make even the shadiest of Poké Mart owners blush. With offers like "6 Pokémon for $30," who needs to venture out into the wild when you can shop from the comfort of your Team Rocket hideout?

Dealing in Digital Dragons

It seems there's a high price for laziness in the Pokémon world, with some monsters going for as much as $85 a pop. That's right, the same price some people pay for a fancy dinner, dedicated trainers (or cheaters) were willing to pay for a bundle of pixels that can Hyper Beam their way to victory. Yamakawa must've felt like the Meowth that got the cream until he got caught, that is.

History Repeats Itself

And here we thought history only repeats itself in boring things like politics and fashion trends. Nope! The Pokémon black market saga is like a broken record, with a previous case popping up in 2021. It appears that the Pokémon Company's crackdown on save data hackers was about as effective as a Magikarp in a battle against Mewtwo.

Confessions of a Poké-Profiteer

When confronted, Yamakawa confessed, citing his entrepreneurial spirit was just him trying to "earn a living." Makes you wonder if there's a Pokémon move for "plead guilty." The investigation is still underway, but one thing's for sure: Yamakawa's in a whole lot more trouble than simply losing a Pokémon battle and blacking out to the nearest Pokémon Center.

Tags: Game save data modification, Japanese law enforcement, Nintendo Switch hacking, Online gaming marketplace, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, Rare monsters trading, Unfair Competition Prevention Act