LUXEMBOURG-VILLE — Using lies, threats, and old-fashioned schoolyard taunts, a local child amassed so many Cactus emojis that she is now considered to be the country’s number one crime boss.
Nine-year-old Sophie Goergen became the subject of an investigation earlier this month after reports emerged that she had illicitly obtained hundreds of the tiny figures — some of which are so rare that they are traded on the black market for Lego sets, PlayStation games, and in at least in one case, a giant inflatable castle.
While Goergen was in ballet class on Thursday afternoon, investigators moved in, seizing from her Elsa-themed bedroom no fewer than 823 emojis — including a dozen full sets of 24 — many of which are valuable ghost, panda, and unicorn emojis.
Officials say Goergen, who in her free time likes roller skating and drawing pictures of anthropomorphic flowers and trees, led an emoji-extortion racket that stretched from her public school in Dommeldange all the way to a private school in Hamm.
“I’ve seen some naughty kids in my time, but this girl took being bad to a whole new level,” said police spokesperson Captain Marco Trausch.
Goergen’s former best friend says that the little girl’s initiation into the criminal underworld started after coercing a shy classmate into exchanging a highly coveted poop emoji for a boring anxious-face emoji.
From that first swindle, the former best friend says, Goergen’s hunger for emojis only grew.
“One day during recreation outside, Sophie said that the teacher was coming, that he was about to take away all our emojis, and that we should give them to her for their protection — and for ours,” said the girl. “We never saw them again.”
Before long, Goergen had recruited teams of so-called “enforcers” at schools across the city who did the dirty work for her, sometimes standing in front of the toilets and making other children pay a fee of one emoji before they could pee. Within a couple weeks, her initial collection of one emoji turned into hundreds.
“She had the rocket emoji,” Trausch said. “She had the alien emoji. She had them all.”
Those who vowed to tell the teacher were threatened with having their entire collections — now hidden under Goergen’s bed — fed to an infamous neighborhood Rottweiler named Cupcake. Others who resisted found themselves the victims of unshakable rumors that they pick their nose and eat the contents — or worse, that they wet the bed.
“This little girl ended up controlling 90 percent of the city’s Cactus emoji market, so much that other, more established gangs started going to her for advice on how to expand their own criminal influence,” Trausch says.
While investigators continue building their case, the 823 emojis will remain in a police evidence locker where, Trausch says, they will be available for officers to look at and — only in the interest of the investigation — play with.
“There’s a lot we still don’t understand about these things,” Trausch said. “Why is the heart emoji considered cool, but the sunglasses emoji is not? And do children really like playing with a tiny pile of plastic poop just because it has a face painted on it?”