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  • 13-Year Old Son of U.K. Policeman Generates $5600 iTunes Bill, Father Reports Fraud

    Image via SWNS

    At the beginning of March, we told you about a 5-year old U.K. boy that ran up a $2500 in-app purchase bill for his parents on their iPad in under 15 minutes. Today, a 13-year old U.K. boy doubles this milestone; the 13-year old boy managed to generate a $5600 iTunes bill for his 48-year old father, Doug Crossan, who is a U.K. policeman. The son, of course, claimed that he didn't know he was really being charged.

    According to Dailymail, the father contacted Apple to attempt to get a refund for the $5600 that was unintentionally spent. Apple refused to give the father back the money, and so the father reported his son to the local police for fraud.

    The son could potentially end up arrested and brought in for questioning; however, the father notes that this may be the only way he could actually get any type of refund from Apple. Notably, Apple didn't appear to have a problem refunding the parents of the 5-year old boy that spent $2500 on in-app purchases by mistake at the beginning of March.

    Some of the games the 13-year old downloaded in-app purchase content from include the popular Plants vs. Zombies, which went free just last month, Gun Builder, Hungry Shark, and Nova 3. Citing Dailymail, there were over 300 different transactions.

    The problem again appears to stem from lack of parental supervision; however, another source of the problem comes from the ease of in-app purchase mistakes, which is the reason Apple is now trying to make it more obvious when applications have in-app purchases that actually do cost money, whether the application is free or not. These kinds of 'freemium' applications are becoming more popular, freemium refers to an application being free while unlocking parts of the game still calls for spending real money.

    At this point in time, the father remains $5600 poorer than he was before the mistake. It is unclear if the father will ever see his money again or not. Hopefully next time the father will take better advantage of the parental controls on the iPad and keep more supervision on the 13-year old boy while he uses it if hes even allowed to anymore. The 5-year old boy involved in the $2500 in-app purchase bill earlier this month was no longer allowed to use his parents' iPad after his mistake.

    Sources: Dailymail via Cult of Mac
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 13-Year Old Son of Policeman Generates $5600 iTunes Bill, Father Reports Fraud started by Anthony Bouchard View original post
    Comments 76 Comments
    1. Spyruf's Avatar
      Spyruf -
      I'm 14 and when I was 10 I knew about this stuff. Some people just have no clue how to use technology and lack common sense.........SMH
    1. Jman2499's Avatar
      Jman2499 -
      When it is said that's it again is lack of parenting. I am a father myself and I can say that we give our children these iPad or iPods so we don't have to watch and play what they are watching or playing all the time. Parents love their kids but you get tired of spongebob
      And angry birds once and a while
    1. Spyruf's Avatar
      Spyruf -
      Even my 4 year old brother has more common sense then this kid
    1. bigboyz's Avatar
      bigboyz -
      Let me guess, next week its going to be the 17 year old U.K. boy that had no idea that he was "buying" applications?? hahahahha! I mean why should Apple refund anything? Slap those parents..they have obviously lost touch with reality. Know what you are buying..you know its capabilities haha!
    1. tongxinshe's Avatar
      tongxinshe -
      Quote Originally Posted by szr View Post
      I disagree, Apple is responsible for creating this environment that developers are clearly taking advantage of. I have nothing against in-app purchases in and of themselves, but when they are put in games that are clearly aimed at young audiences, then it feels just like those 1-900 numbers you had all over television programming for children in the 70's, 80's, and some of the 90's iirc. The fact that anyone could accumulate anywhere near a sum like that in a game is a problem in and of it self. Developers taking advantage the "getting the high score" style of competition (a la old-school arcades) to motivate such spending in order to get the edge in the game is another.
      Read / investigate before you make conclusions!!! It's not all in one app.
    1. szr's Avatar
      szr -
      Quote Originally Posted by tongxinshe View Post
      Read / investigate before you make conclusions!!! It's not all in one app.
      I know that, but the majority of the purchases did come from in-app purchases, most of which were from such games.
    1. alanjf's Avatar
      alanjf -
      Quote Originally Posted by tongxinshe View Post
      Read / investigate before you make conclusions!!! It's not all in one app.
      Actually most of them were concentrated in some specific games, the type of games that prey on people like the poster you quoted described. I don't excuse parents for not better controlling their account, but Apple does need to get a grip on this situation. Games and apps that are clearly targeted to younger audiences should not be able to have in-app purchases. It's gotten to the point where it's not even about playing the game, but about buying all the power-ups that let you breeze through it, and are also many games that I've seen which are made impossible to progress past a certain point without purchasing certain power-ups. This is wrong no matter how you slice it.

      Quote Originally Posted by Spyruf View Post
      I'm 14 and when I was 10 I knew about this stuff. Some people just have no clue how to use technology and lack common sense.........SMH
      Interesting, since 4 years ago (2009) In-App purchases didn't even exist and the latest firmware was 2.x. The App-Store was barely in it's infancy. Ergo, this specific issue didn't exist yet.
    1. Spyruf's Avatar
      Spyruf -
      Apple makes it easy for people to buy things, so Apple/Developers can make money, and it's more convenient for the user to get what they want. THe people who lack common sense blame that the simplicity of the system is too confusing for them (see what I did there).

      Quote Originally Posted by alanjf View Post
      Actually most of them were concentrated in some specific games, the type of games that prey on people like the poster you quoted described. I don't excuse parents for not better controlling their account, but Apple does need to get a grip on this situation. Games and apps that are clearly targeted to younger audiences should not be able to have in-app purchases. It's gotten to the point where it's not even about playing the game, but about buying all the power-ups that let you breeze through it, and are also many games that I've seen which are made impossible to progress past a certain point without purchasing certain power-ups. This is wrong no matter how you slice it.

      Interesting, since 4 years ago (2009) In-App purchases didn't even exist and the latest firmware was 2.x. The App-Store was barely in it's infancy. Ergo, this specific issue didn't exist yet.
      Maybe not this specific issue, but I knew about buying things and making sure not to accidently buying $2000+ worth of stuff.
    1. cmwade77's Avatar
      cmwade77 -
      There are now parental controls to block buying this stuff. Better still, if you are going to give a kid an iPad/etc. to use, don't associate a credit card with the account, instead use either a prepaid debit card or an iTunes gift card, that way you can control the spending.
    1. tongxinshe's Avatar
      tongxinshe -
      Quote Originally Posted by alanjf View Post
      Actually most of them were concentrated in some specific games, the type of games that prey on people like the poster you quoted described. I don't excuse parents for not better controlling their account, but Apple does need to get a grip on this situation. Games and apps that are clearly targeted to younger audiences should not be able to have in-app purchases. It's gotten to the point where it's not even about playing the game, but about buying all the power-ups that let you breeze through it, and are also many games that I've seen which are made impossible to progress past a certain point without purchasing certain power-ups. This is wrong no matter how you slice it.
      You don't have to continue investing into that game if you don't want to pay. It's like you have to upgrade your car if you think you are obliged to race with others, but you don't really have to win these kind of stuff. Parents giving teenagers enough power to possibly cause this kind of damage need to know their kids better. There are a ton methods other that the iTunes account that they can bring you big trouble (drive your car out for a on-street-racing?).

      Quote Originally Posted by alanjf View Post
      Interesting, since 4 years ago (2009) In-App purchases didn't even exist and the latest firmware was 2.x. The App-Store was barely in it's infancy. Ergo, this specific issue didn't exist yet.
      Come on, in his comment the word "this stuff" is obviously about "spending money". Don't just twist people's words and then find loopholes in the twisted version.
    1. regkilla's Avatar
      regkilla -
      Both kid and dad are scumbags. Throw them in the lava!
    1. recognition's Avatar
      recognition -
      Quote Originally Posted by alanjf View Post
      and are also many games that I've seen which are made impossible to progress past a certain point without purchasing certain power-ups. This is wrong no matter how you slice it.
      Thats the decision of the game developer who would like to be paid for the hard work they have put into making the 'freemium' App.
      You have the choice to download the game, play it and delete it if you don't want to pay to progress further in the free game you downloaded. Nobody is forcing you to do anything.

      Why do you think you should get everything for free? Would you do your job for free?
    1. Cokeman's Avatar
      Cokeman -
      This is in no way Apple's fault. They may be guilty of somethings, but this isn't one of them.

      Parental Controls...Control for the parent to use. This in it's self removes Apple from the picture. The parent is in control. (They more than likely bought the iDevice for the child or let them use it)

      I have 3 kids with iPhones or iPods. I have a iTunes account setup for each of them to use. I allow a certain amount to be added to each account per month. No way in hell would I have my CC info on a account a child uses. Parental control is turned on all the devices, The ability to purchase apps is disabled along with in-app purchases. If they want to buy something, they ask either mom or me. We make the purchase, when we finish we disable the ability to purchase apps again. Not rocket science.

      Blaming this on Apple is like blaming the internet that porn is available. As parents it's our responsibility to monitor our children. As for this 13 yr old, he more than likely knew what he was doing. The pop up screen saying you will be charged x amount...even my 6 yr old knows it's actual money. Personally I think the parent should pay it, it is his fault.
    1. GrumpySod's Avatar
      GrumpySod -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmwade77 View Post
      There are now parental controls to block buying this stuff. Better still, if you are going to give a kid an iPad/etc. to use, don't associate a credit card with the account, instead use either a prepaid debit card or an iTunes gift card, that way you can control the spending.
      My iTunes account is set to my PayPal master card reason being I get push MSG and email every time I use it! Annoying yes but if my account was used with out my knowledge I would know with in a few mins! Parents need to take responsibility for there actions as there are plenty of options there for them!
    1. alanjf's Avatar
      alanjf -
      Quote Originally Posted by recognition View Post
      Thats the decision of the game developer who would like to be paid for the hard work they have put into making the 'freemium' App.
      You have the choice to download the game, play it and delete it if you don't want to pay to progress further in the free game you downloaded. Nobody is forcing you to do anything.

      Why do you think you should get everything for free? Would you do your job for free?
      1) I never claimed one should get everything for free, so I don't know why you are insinuating that I did. Please don't fabricate points to bolster your arguments.

      2) This isn't about fair compensation for the work a developer did. I don't think very many people have a problem with that much. It's about the way certain developers are exploiting people. The vast majority of these apps are games and the a huge percentage of them are targeted at kids, who are manipulated into wanting to continue playing, and the way a lot of those games are designed, some sort of item will need to be purchased in order to get past a certain point.

      3) Yes, it's a developer's choice how they make their game or software. I have never disputed this. But you're missing the point of the matter. This is not about making a fair buck. It's about exploiting children and people who simply don't know any better. Should parents keep better control of spending and be more in the know of what their children are doing, monetarily or otherwise? Most decidedly, yes, absolutely. But it's a fool who thinks that every parent can maintain 100% control 100% of the time. Gift and/or pre-paid cards on a separate account is a good way to place a hard limit on spending. Regardless, it doesn't make such exploitation right.
    1. Villebilly's Avatar
      Villebilly -
      Most of the problems in the world today are a result of lack of parental supervision.
    1. regkilla's Avatar
      regkilla -
      Quote Originally Posted by radiobirdman View Post
      daddy pig is going to be disappointed when baby pig can't get a decent job in future thanks to that fraud charged he copped.
      lmao!
    1. camxposure's Avatar
      camxposure -
      I'm guessing that Harry Potty look a like was buying spells to ward off the evil powers darkening over Castle DingleDork
    1. b1997469's Avatar
      b1997469 -
      So Apple know that the In App Purchases are bad and people dont realise they cost real money so why keep at it?

      And they refunded one a few weeks ago so why not refund this one?

      I've got a few refunds from accidental purchases (I click the paid app instead of the free app) and things like that but you virtually have to yell at them to get the refund and it all depends on who you speak to. The first rep might not give it to you but the 2nd will.

      Still Apple make lots of money from accidental purchases which is theft if you ask me and they are getting away with it.
    1. Mrteacup's Avatar
      Mrteacup -
      Quote Originally Posted by Chad711 View Post
      The kid needs his *** kicked and the dad needs to pay the bill. Lesson learned for both of them. Maybe be a little more dialed into your childs every day life might help too.
      Yes cause abuse is smart. Oh and of course every police officer makes enough to spend 5600 so easily.

      Honestly though the kids thirteen no excuse, the dad should have never given his password. Both are at fault the dad shouldn't put his son in jail but he should be refunded by apple/devs