Boy, 6, spends over $16,000 on video game using mom’s credit card
One mom in the United States thought she was a victim of credit card fraud when she saw charges on her card that racked up to over $16,000 (about P770,000).
However, it turned out that the culprit was her 6-year-old son who had been making in-app purchases while playing the game Sonic Forces on her iPad, the New York Post reported yesterday, Dec. 12. Add-on boosters start at $1.99 and go up to $99.99 (P95.80 to P4813.58).
Jessica Johnson, 41, was shocked to find her bill reach $16,923.10 by July. Because these were unitemized charges, she did not realize her son George was behind it, and she filed a fraud claim that month to Chase Bank.
“The way the charges get bundled made it almost impossible [to figure out that] they were from a game,” Johnson said in the report.
She was only informed in October that the charges were all hers and that she had to call Apple. When she did get in touch with Apple, they gave her the list of charges, and it was only when she saw the Sonic icon that she knew it was George.
“You wouldn’t know how to [find] it without someone directing you,” she was quoted as saying.
She received no help from Apple: “[Apple] said, ‘Tough.’ They told me that because I didn’t call within 60 days of the charges, that they can’t do anything.”
“The reason I didn’t call within 60 days is because Chase told me it was likely fraud — that PayPal and Apple.com are top fraud charges,” she added.
Even when she said she would be unable to pay her family’s mortgage, the customer service could offer no solution: “They’re like, ‘There’s a setting, you should have known.’”
“Check your security settings,” she advises other parents. “I’m appalled that this is even possible in these games and that Apple devices are not preset to prevent this.”
Johnson, a real estate broker, has not gotten paid from March to September as she works on commission. She added that her income has decreased by 80% this year.
“I may have to force this kid to pay me back in 15 years when he gets his first job,” she quipped in the report.
However, she acknowledges that her son did not know he was spending real money — in fact, he wanted to pay his mom back when she told him of the expenses.
“My son didn’t understand that the money was real. How could he? He’s playing a cartoon game in a world that he knows is not real. Why would the money be real to him? That would require a big cognitive leap.”
“These games are designed to be completely predatory and get kids to buy things,” she argued. “What grown-up would spend $100 on a chest of virtual gold coins?”
Sega, which created Sonic Forces, did not respond to calls for comment according to the report. Niña V. Guno/JB
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