The Pokemon franchise made its debut in 1996, and quickly exploded into a worldwide phenomena. From the wildly beloved Nintendo games, to the highly collectible trading cards, the series has now become the highest-grossing media franchise in the world.
Its popularity has unfortunately resulted in criminals trying to get a piece of the action. In May, the US border offices seized over $600k worth of counterfeit figurines. However in Japan, a mother and son made this a family affair, and were busted for running an illegal TCG operation.
Mother & son become real life Team Rocket with Pokemon scheme
On September 10th, Tokyo police announced that they had filed charges against a mother and son for running a fraudulent Pokemon scheme. According to publication ‘Kyodo‘, a 23-year-old man from Kyoto was selling counterfeit goods with his 49-year-old mom.
Reports stated that the pair had knowingly purchased fake TCG playing mats from China for approximately $6, and then sold them for the exuberant price of around $28. The criminal markup made them $18.8k across a year, authorities revealed.
After being served with the charges, the Pokemon scammers admitted to their scheme. When the mother was asked why she got involved with the dubious operation, she explained that she just wanted to help her son make some money.
Japanese news outlets showed footage of the fake goods that were seized by police. The counterfeit TCG playing mats featured artwork from various generations, as well as popular characters from the RPG.
At the time of writing, it is not yet known what punishment the mother and son will actually be given. If nothing else, it’s just another example of the lengths people are willing to go to get in on the incredible amount of money that the Pokemon series brings in.
In 2019, it was reported that the popular Nintendo property is now the highest grossing media franchise of all time. Which sadly means there will be scammers trying to get in on its success, so always be careful about what you buy.