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Faking legendary Pokémon in Pokémon Go is easier than you'd think

Why players refuse to believe that an Articuno was found in Ohio

There are a handful of Pokémon that no player has legitimately caught yet in Pokémon Go — but that hasn’t stopped some from attempting to stake their clams as the proud owners of the elusive Mewtwo, Ditto and legendary birds.

The Pokémon Go community’s latest mystery revolves around the ice-type Articuno, with most insisting that a player’s so-called catch is a ruse. Last night, screenshots of an Articuno stationed at a gym in Ohio made the rounds on social media and Reddit, with owner Kait Covey claiming that Niantic gifted her the rare Pokémon. Without pictures of a Pokédex, however, players called foul. (Videos allegedly of Articuno in-game have since appeared from other users, but those too have been rejected by Pokémon Go collection referees.)

Articuno deniers are doing more than calling fellow trainers liars, however. They’re instead pointing out just how players fake legendaries using PhotoShop, client-side skins and other methods to make it seem like they’ve got some special Pokémon in their Pokédexes.

These include the Pokémon Go MITM Proxy, a tool for the computer programming savvy to alter the game’s data at will. The proxy allows players to make it so that every time they happen upon a Pokémon — say, Pikachu — their phone screens will show a different one, like Articuno.

That’s how one player made a convincing video of Mewtwo appearing in-game. With the help of the proxy and some modeling software, a Redditor managed to dupe major YouTubers like Trevor "Tmartn" Martin into believing that Mewtwo had been caught.

Another user tricked Pokémon Go players last week by posting videos of Mewtwo, Ditto and Zapdos. Shortly thereafter, he admitted that the catches weren’t real, breaking down the process behind creating them. The 20-minute video at the top shows how YouTuber FrozenAquaCat used some Adobe suite trickery to create the 3D models of the rare Pokémon. None of what was said to be captured from his phone was ever even on his device; the player simply recreated the game’s backdrop on his computer and put the characters in motion with Adobe Premiere.

While Kait Covey and other alleged Articuno owners are sticking to their stories, it makes sense that players are skeptical. Pokémon Go has revolutionized catching Pokémon — and made it possible to create them from thin air, too.

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