Mother Unable to Pay Rent After 6-Year-Old Son Spends $16,000 on Mobile Video Game

A Connecticut mother was shocked to find that her 6-year-old boy used her credit card to spend a small fortune on his favorite smartphone game over a couple of months.

In July of this year, Jessica Johnson, a real-estate broker from Wilton, Connecticut, discovered that substantial sums of money were being deducted from her Chase account by Apple and PayPal. Thinking it was a mistake or fraud, the 41-year-old mother-of-one called the bank and ended up filing a fraud claim in July. By that time, her suspicious credit card charges had reached  a whopping $16,293.10, but it wasn’t until October that her bank told her that the charges were legit and she needed to contact Apple.

Photo: Benjamin Sow/Unsplash

Johnson only realized that the money had been spent by her six-year-old son after contacting Apple and seeing a list of credit card charges. When she saw the icon of Sonic the Hedgehog, she knew it had been George. Unfortunately, by then, it was too late to do anything about it. Apple refused to issue any refunds, as she hadn’t called withing 60 days of the charges.

“They said, ‘Tough’. They told me that, because I didn’t call within 60 days of the charges, that they can’t do anything,” Jessica told the New York Post. “The reason I didn’t call within 60 days is because Chase told me it was likely fraud — that PayPal and are top fraud charges.”

It turns out that, because neither Jessica nor her husband didn’t activate any preventive settings on her account, 6-year-old George was able to use her linked credit card to buy thousands of dollars-worth of booster packs in his favorite mobile video game, Sonic Forces. He started out with  $1.99 red rings and quickly moved up to $99.99 gold rings, as the more he spent the more characters and features he unlocked in the game.

Photo: Sonic Forces/SEGA

“It’s like my 6-year-old was doing lines of cocaine — and doing bigger and bigger hits,” Jessica jokingly said. “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.”

Still, Jessica blames Apple and the video game company, saying that such apps are predatory, designed to get kids to buy things. She is now urging parents to check their security and payment settings, adding that she is appaled that such preventive measures are not activated by default on Apple gadgets.

“What grown-up would spend $100 on a chest of virtual gold coins?” Jessica rhetorically asked. “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.”


Well, to answer Johnson’s first question, this guy would: back in 2018, we wrote about a 31-year-old who had spent over $70,000 on his favorite mobile video game.

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