A 6-year-old Connecticut boy secretly racked up more than $16,000 on his mom’s credit card playing his favorite video games Sonic Forces and buying upgrades, leaving mom in shock and broke.
Jessica Johnson is now scrambling to pay off the debt. “My income has decreased by 80 percent this year”, said Jessica, who works on commission. “I didn’t get a paycheck from March to September.”
Real estate agent, Jessica Johnson who works from home due to covid-19 pandemic, didn’t realize the younger of her two boys was also busy working from home in the next room, racking up bills for her in Apple’s app-store. He was buying virtual ‘golden rings’ costing $1.99 to $99.99 that unlocked new characters and levels for his favorite video game, according to the report.
When 41-year-old Jessica checked her Chase account balance and discovered that Apple and PayPal had been withdrawing large sums of $562 here, $601 there from her account, she was confused and called the bank, believing it was a huge fraud or mistake.
Jessica filed a fraud claim in July when the charges reached $16,293.10, but was told by Chase bank which responded in October after investigations, that the bill was indeed hers and that she should reach out to Apple.
Jessica contacted Apple but was left in shock when a customer service representative walked her through a “buried running list of all the charges”. It was then that she realized it was George, her six-year-old son who racked up the bill.
“You wouldn’t know how to [find] it without someone directing you,” said Jessica, who knew it was George the moment she saw the Sonic icon.
“The way the charges get bundled made it almost impossible [to figure out that] they were from a game,” Jessica said.
George Johnson made 25 purchases totaling over $2,500 on July 9 – a day his mom was working in the next room.
“It’s like my 6-year-old was doing lines of cocaine — and doing bigger and bigger hits,” Jessica joked.
Jessica said she got no sympathy when she contacted Apple, even after telling them that she wouldn’t be able to pay her family’s mortgage. “They’re like, ‘There’s a setting, you should have known,’ ” she recalled.
Jessica admitted she did not 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?”, she asked.
But Apple’s customer service rep told her there’s nothing they can do because she did not call within 60 days of the charges.
“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.” Jessica said
When Jessica explained to her son what he did and the total bill, the boy who apparently wants to play more video games, 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.’ ”
Jessica who is now advising other parents to check their security settings, believes Apple is to blame.
“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.”
Apple and Chase have not yet responded to any Media inquiry about the matter. Sega, the maker of Sonic Forces, did not return calls for comment by The Post
Video games are on top the list of pocket money spending during the coronavirus-induced lockdown, according to the Financial Times