Japanese Man Arrested for Selling Hacked Pokémon Characters

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Ross Jukes
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Last updated: May 10, 2024
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A Japanese man was recently arrested for breaking into the Nintendo Switch games Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. He allegedly altered the save data for the games to create custom Pokémon characters, which he then sold online.

This action has resulted in substantial legal ramifications for the individual, as changing game data for profit breaches multiple laws. At this point, he could get fined or sent to jail. The case highlights the ongoing issues surrounding unauthorized game modifications and the sale of in-game content.

Arrest made in Japan for selling modified Pokémon online

A Hacker Sells Hacked Pokémon Characters Online

The popular Pokémon brand has been the subject of a major court case in Kochi Prefecture, Japan. A 36-year-old Japanese man named Yoshihiro Yamakawa was caught on April 9th after it was found that he was selling Pokémon characters that had been illegally modified. 

As reported by NHK News (translated by Automaton Media), Yamakawa used an online tool to alter the save data of the Nintendo Switch games Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, enabling him to customize creatures according to buyer requests. Among these changes were coloring the Pokémon and changing their attributes to make them easier to train.The Kochi Prefectural police arrested Yamakawa after their cyber patrol officers saw what he was doing on an online market for games.  

When playing Pokémon games, players usually catch, train, and fight a wide range of creatures each with its own skills and traits. Some of these pokemon are very rare and hard to get, which makes people really want them.

After being arrested, Yamakawa admitted to the charges and said that he did these things to “earn a living.” The tool used for modifying the game data, found to be freely available online, is illegal to use under the Japanese Unfair Competition Prevention Act of 2019. In both online and offline settings, this law makes it illegal to modify or sell digitally protected material. 

As the investigation continues, the possible outcomes of such actions have become clearer. Yamakawa could face up to five years in jail and fines of more than five million yen, which is about $32,600 USD, if he is found guilty.

Millions of Yen in profits

Yoshihiro Yamakawa was recently caught by Japanese police. He is suspected of illegally selling modified Pokémon on online marketplaces. Police say Yamakawa modified and sold rare Pokémon to players who wanted unique or hard-to-train monsters. He was caught by cyber patrol officers. His ads advertised deals like “6 Pokémon for only $30,” which drew in people who wanted an edge in their games.

Yamakawa’s business is said to have made as much as 13,000 yen ($85) per deal from December 2022 to March 2023. Although he admitted that the activity was his source of income, the investigation into the full scope of his activities is still going on. According to the police, Yamakawa may have made millions of yen, which is about tens of thousands of dollars, from these deals. The case is still open while police find out more about how big his illegal business is.

This is not the first case

The problem of hacking Pokémon games is not new. There’s actually enough interest in changed game data that things like this have happened before. One example is that in 2021, Japanese police arrested another individual under the same rule for tampering with Pokémon Sword and Shield save data. This incident as reported by Polygon showed a rising problem in which hacking Pokémon games had become common. The Pokémon Company has stepped up its efforts to stop these illegal modifications.

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Ross Jukes
Ross Jukes
Ross Jukes is an accomplished American copywriter with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and a minor in Creative Writing. Based in the United States, Ross is a language expert, fluent in English and specializes in creating compelling and engaging content. With years of experience in the industry, he has honed his skills in various forms of writing, including advertising, marketing, and web content. Ross's creativity and keen eye for detail have made him a valuable asset in the field of copywriting, where he continues to excel and innovate.

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