George Johnson, a six-year-old kid from Wilton, Connecticut (USA) spent about $16,000 (roughly Rs 11.80 lakh) from his mother’s credit card on Apple App Store charges for his favourite video game, Sonic Forces on iPad. Yes, six year-old George racked up a more than $16,000 in charges on his mother, Jessica Johnson’s credit card as he went on a shopping spree on her iPad. According to a report in The New York Post, the six-year-old bought add-on boosters for his game, starting with Red Rings ($1.99) and moving up to Gold Rings worth $99.99, allowing George to access new characters and more speed, spending hundreds of dollars at a time.
These purchases were made by the six-year-old over the month of July, and went unnoticed by Johnson (mother) until July 9, when she saw 25 charges on her credit card totaling $2,500 (roughly Rs 1,80,000). Johnson discovered that Apple and PayPal were withdrawing hefty sums from her Chase account. She assumed it is a fraud and contacted the bank. “The way the charges get bundled made it almost impossible [to figure out that] they were from a game," she was quoted in the New York Post as saying. Not knowing about her son’s expenses, Johnson filed a fraud claim when her bill reached $16,293.10 (Rs 11.99 lakh by direct conversion), but it wasn’t until October that she was told that the charges were indeed hers and she needs to contact Apple for the same.
Upon reaching out to Apple, she realised it was her six-year-old who went on a spending spree on his favourite iPad game. The New York Post report said that she was walked through a buried list of all the charges. “You wouldn’t know how to [find] it without someone directing you," Johnson was quoted as saying. Further, she said that Apple could not help as they weren’t contacted within 60 days of the charges. She said that she didn’t call then because Chase told her its a likely fraud - that Apple and PayPal are top fraud charges.
The woman admitted that she hadn’t put any preventive settings on her account, because she didn’t know about them. “Obviously, if I had known there was a setting for that, I wouldn’t have allowed my 6-year-old to run up nearly $20,000 in charges for virtual gold rings,” the report quotes her as saying. When confronted by his mother, the six-year-old George was quoted as saying “Well, I’ll pay you back, mom."
However, Jessica blames Apple and the game designers. She says that these games are designed to be predatory and get kids to buy things. On blaming Apple, she said that her son did not 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."