Over a series of months starting in July, Six-year-old George Johnson secretly racked up more than $16,000 in Apple app-store charges for his favorite video game — leaving his mom in shock.
Jessica Johnson of Wilton, CT. discovered a series of withdrawals made from her credit card. Not knowing that the purchases were made by her youngest son, George, who was repeatedly acquiring in-game currency for the game Sonic Forces on her iPad.
According to the New York Post, the spending spree started over a series of months in July. Starting from buying add-ons in the game from a $1.99 pack to $99.99 bundles. While on July 9, 25 charges were made to her account, valued cumulatively at over $2,500.
Still clueless that it was George’s doing, Jessica filed a fraud claim in July when her bill reached $16,293.10 — but it wasn’t until October that she was told by Chase that the charges were indeed hers and she needed to contact Apple.
She realized it was George only when she reached out to Apple and was walked through a “buried running list of all the charges. You wouldn’t know how to [find] it without someone directing you,” Jessica said. When she saw the Sonic icon, she knew it was George.
“It’s like my 6-year-old was doing lines of cocaine — and doing bigger and bigger hits,” she joked of her first-grader.
Even after confessing that she wouldn’t be able to pay her family’s mortgage, Jessica got no sympathy from a customer-service agent. “They’re like, ‘There’s a setting, you should have known,’?” she recalled.
She admitted she hadn’t put 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,” said Jessica, whose husband cares for the kids full-time.
“These games are designed to be completely predatory and get kids to buy things, What grown-up would spend $100 on a chest of virtual gold coins?”-Jessica Johnson of Wilton, CT | New York Post
When Jessica explained to George the totality of what he had done, “He said, ‘Well, I’ll pay you back, mom,’?” Jessica recalled. “How? I pay him $4 to clean his room!“I literally told George, ‘I don’t know about Christmas.’?”
“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.”-Jessica Johnson of Wilton, CT | New York Post
Jessica now struggles with how to pay her debts and only works on commission. “I didn’t get a paycheck from March to September,” she said.
“My income has decreased by 80 percent this year.”
“I may have to force this kid to pay me back in 15 years when he gets his first job.”
She advises parents to “Check your security settings. I’m appalled that this is even possible in these games and that Apple devices are not pre-set to prevent this.”
Source: New York Post