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Old Mar 27, 2013, 10:48 PM   #1
RawBert
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Dad Calls Police Over Son's iPad Bill

The story's written a little funny but it'll make you shake your head. ...or facepalm, if you prefer.
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WHEN he discovered he had run up a 3,700 bill ($5372) on his father's credit card playing games on his iPad, Cameron Crossan expected a very stern telling off at least.

The 13-year-old was mortified by what he had done - but worse was to come. For instead of punishing him, his father filed an official police complaint effectively accusing him of fraud.

Doug Crossan, 48, said he was horrified when his credit card company informed him of the amount his son had spent on the games in Apple Inc’s online App Store.

Cameron could now face arrest and questioning by detectives.

But that is not the reason the teenager was shopped. If Mr Crossan had wanted him to feel the force of the law he could have done it himself - he is a Police Constable with Avon and Somerset Police in the UK. He contacted the national Action Fraud helpline in the hope of getting his money back from Apple.

A boy, 13, has been charged $5370 for playing games with his iPad at an Apple store.

He says Cameron was unaware he was being charged for the purchases and wants Apple to refund the cash. But the technology giant has so far refused, so Mr Crossan believes that by reporting the purchases as fraudulent his credit card company will have to foot the bill.

"I am sure Cameron had no intention to do it, but I had to have a crime reference number if there was any chance of getting any credit card payments refunded," said Mr Crossan, of Clevedon, Somerset.

"In theory the local police station would contact me and ask for Cameron to come in to be interviewed. I could make it difficult, of course, and refuse to bring him in, and they would have to come and arrest him."

Mr Crossan logged the details of his MBNA Virgin credit card with Apple when he used his son's device to download music.

Cameron then racked up more than 300 purchases on games such as Plants vs Zombies, Hungry Shark, Gun Builder and N.O.V.A. 3. Many of them are free to download but users can buy in-game extras. In one game Cameron had purchased a virtual chest of gold coins costing 77.98 ($113).

He would have had to key in a password before each of the purchases was processed.

When his father confronted him, Cameron quickly confessed but said he did not know it was costing money as the games were initially free.

"There was no indication in the game that he was being charged for any of the clicks made within it," Mr Crossan said.

"He innocently thought that, because it was advertised as a free game, the clicks would not cost anything."

Apple has refused to cancel the charges, citing parental responsibility and pointing out that iPads contain password locks to prevent accidental or unwanted purchases.

"I am a father of a studious, polite and sensible 13-year-old who has been duped after uploading free children's games on his iPod and iPad," Mr Crossan said.

"Our son is mortified to think that this has happened. I wonder how many others there are in the UK that have suffered at the hands of these apps?"

Of his decision to report Cameron to Action Fraud, Mr Crossan said: "Really I just want to embarrass Apple as much as possible. Morally, I just don't understand where Apple gets off, charging for a child’s game."

A spokesman for the Home Office, which runs Action Fraud, said last night: "It sounds like this would be a matter to resolve with Apple. It doesn't sound like a fraud has taken place."

Cameron could in theory end up with a criminal record as he is over the age of ten. But a legal source doubted whether the Crown Prosecution Service would think a prosecution was in the public interest.

Mr Crossan is among a growing number of parents caught out by their children's unauthorised spending on apps.

Earlier this year, five-year-old Danny Kitchen spent 1,700 ($2468) buying weapons and ammunition in the iPad game Zombies vs Ninjas.
Apple refunded the money to his parents Greg and Sharon.

In the US, Apple is paying $96million in compensation to parents whose children ran up huge bills. The case is unlikely to affect British families.
Shouldn't the father be charged with fraud? Or at least charged with being a jerk.
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Old Mar 27, 2013, 11:51 PM   #2
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The article is typical these days. There is a different, but similar one almost every day. I do not necessarily think the father is a jerk. He has tried dealing with Apple and they have refused him. He also speaks well of his child in the article, but is limited in his options of recovering the funds. The article states that prosecutors would probably not consider this case. But it gave the father a file number so he may possibly recover the funds through his cc company.

I have had this happen to my cc with my youngest boy but was very fortunate that it was less than $10 and considered it a lesson learned. I have since removed my cc info from my Apple ID and will never tie it back to my ID again. When I want to purchase something through my Apple ID, I now use prepaid iTunes cards.

I think anybody who reads these stories should do as I do and use iTunes prepaid cards. That way if anything now shows up on my cc from Apple, it is then fraud as I do not have it tied to Apple ID. For sure then I will receive the funds back. This is an area that I believe will cause Apple problems down the road and think they should change their practices in regards to it. Please remember this is only my opinion.
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Old Mar 28, 2013, 06:25 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by firedept View Post
I have had this happen to my cc with my youngest boy but was very fortunate that it was less than $10 and considered it a lesson learned. I have since removed my cc info from my Apple ID and will never tie it back to my ID again. When I want to purchase something through my Apple ID, I now use prepaid iTunes cards.
If you had called Apple, in all likelihood the money would have been refunded. The difference in this case is that the charges were racked up over a time span of three months.

The father says "I am a father of a studious, polite and sensible 13-year-old". There is the possibility that this is actually true, and that it was actually the dad playing games and trying to get his money back. Anyway, he is playing a dangerous game. He is accusing his son of fraud or theft in order to get the money back from his credit card company. That, I think, is very dangerous and has the potential to backfire massively.

He also says "There was no indication in the game that he was being charged for any of the clicks made within it.". That I don't believe. If that was the case, the software developer would be charged with fraud.
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Old Mar 28, 2013, 06:31 AM   #4
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This dad is an idiot. He should be charged with fraud.

Bad parenting (not knowing what your child is doing) combined with pretending to "not know" about the purchases that are EMAILED to you when you make them that also show up on your credit card should be enough for Apple to not refund the guy.

People need to take responsibility.
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Old Mar 28, 2013, 06:52 AM   #5
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"He would have had to key in a password before each of the purchases was processed."

I would never let a child have the password to my account, no matter how sensible, studious and polite the kid is

I check my credit card balances regularly, but I would have seen the emailed receipts long before that

But that's just me

IMO, moral outrage at Apple is misdirected since it is the game developers who are giving games away for free and charging for in-app purchases

However, the fact that you must supply the password to make the purchases should be an adequate check and balance

Yes, Apple allows them in the iTunes store, but parents need to to take responsibility for parenting and not shove an iDevice in front of kid, giving them the password and allowing the iDevice to be a surrogate parent
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Old Mar 28, 2013, 08:18 AM   #6
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Tired of irresponsible parents and stories like these. That said, Apple could avoid all of this if they would ship phones with in-app purchases turned off or require you to acknowledge that in-app purchases are possible when you register your device.
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Old Mar 28, 2013, 08:38 AM   #7
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That said, Apple could avoid all of this if they would ship phones with in-app purchases turned off or require you to acknowledge that in-app purchases are possible when you register your device.
Both good ideas but the opt-in would be my choice.

Apple could also attempt to crack down on some of the dodgy developers as these expensive in-app purchases are obviously designed to catch out parents who have foolishly let their kids have access to their passwords. Who in their right mind would pay over a $100 for a single in-game extra?
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Old Mar 28, 2013, 09:07 AM   #8
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Both good ideas but the opt-in would be my choice.

Apple could also attempt to crack down on some of the dodgy developers as these expensive in-app purchases are obviously designed to catch out parents who have foolishly let their kids have access to their passwords. Who in their right mind would pay over a $100 for a single in-game extra?
Unfortunately, irrational behavior and poor financial decisions relating to gaming are not limited to kids
Vegas has capitalized on an entire industry that relies on such insane choices
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Old Mar 28, 2013, 09:44 AM   #9
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This article is poorly written, and I am confused.

So, kid plays with iPad and racks up $5000+ worth of in-app purchases.

Father claims kid didn't know that he was racking up charges and intends to dispute them with either the credit card company or get a refund from Apple.

So where does the fraud charge against his own son come in? How can he accuse him of fraud in one breath and then say "I am sure Cameron had no intention to do it" and "Cameron was unaware he was being charged for the purchases and wants Apple to refund the cash"?

Accidental fraud? Shouldn't he instead be accusing Apple of fraud? Or the app developer?
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Old Mar 28, 2013, 11:06 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by rdowns View Post
Tired of irresponsible parents and stories like these.
Yep. Makes us responsible parents look like ogres.

The boy: "But Jimmy's dad lets him play his iPad whenever he wants."
Me: "Well, I'm not Jimmy's dad. Oh, by the way, if you want the password for the router this week, clean your room."
The boy: "Rassing frassing Rick Rastardly."
Me:

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That said, Apple could avoid all of this if they would ship phones with in-app purchases turned off or require you to acknowledge that in-app purchases are possible when you register your device.
I find nothing more repugnant than the in-app purchasing feature. I hate "Freemium" games. Charge upfront for the game and let us play in peace. Which is why I hate Diablo III (even though I loved, Loved, LOVED Diablo and Diablo 2).

Every one of my devices has in-app purchasing deactivated. Been lucky so far as the kids haven't been able to turn on the in-app purchasing option. Knock on my mother-in-law's head.
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Old Mar 28, 2013, 01:11 PM   #11
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I get how a 5 year old does this, but 13?! He knew he was spending his dads money.
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Old Mar 28, 2013, 02:14 PM   #12
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The father gave his credit card to the kid to use. iTunes sends email notifications on each purchase.

Apple bears no responsibility.

No fraud was committed; just a lazy adult who is trying to avoid the consequences of his own actions - and inaction.
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Old Mar 28, 2013, 02:40 PM   #13
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Perhaps Apple should add the option to enable restrictions, and specifically disable in-app purchases from the initial setup screen?
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Old Mar 28, 2013, 02:44 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Aspasia View Post
The father gave his credit card to the kid to use. iTunes sends email notifications on each purchase.

Apple bears no responsibility.

No fraud was committed; just a lazy adult who is trying to avoid the consequences of his own actions - and inaction.
Actually, _if_ the purchases were made by a thirteen year old, on his own, against the will of the father, the money should be returned. Apple has done that, when a nine year old went on a spending spree for 3000 in fifteen minutes, where it was very unlikely that the parents had allowed this.

However, in this case Apple says "You are saying that over a time of three months, after receiving 300 emails about purchases, you were not aware that your kid was using your credit card? We find that hard to believe. We believe that you are responsible for these purchases".

As someone else mentioned, the father both claims that his son is innocent, and that his son committed fraud (by using dad's credit card). This is all in the UK, where making false accusations is called "perverting the course of justice", and where even government ministers go to jail if they do that (one government minister who claimed that his wife had been speeding, when in fact he did it himself. Eight months jail). Dangerous.
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Old Mar 28, 2013, 08:30 PM   #15
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Actually, _if_ the purchases were made by a thirteen year old, on his own, against the will of the father, the money should be returned. Apple has done that, when a nine year old went on a spending spree for 3000 in fifteen minutes, where it was very unlikely that the parents had allowed this.

However, in this case Apple says "You are saying that over a time of three months, after receiving 300 emails about purchases, you were not aware that your kid was using your credit card? We find that hard to believe. We believe that you are responsible for these purchases".

As someone else mentioned, the father both claims that his son is innocent, and that his son committed fraud (by using dad's credit card). This is all in the UK, where making false accusations is called "perverting the course of justice", and where even government ministers go to jail if they do that (one government minister who claimed that his wife had been speeding, when in fact he did it himself. Eight months jail). Dangerous.
If the purchases were made by the 13-year-old son using the father's credit card, then the son should get a job and repay his father. Or work off the debt by doing chores around the house.

Had that kid used his father's credit card to throw a party for his schoolmates, the store supplying the party goods certainly has no responsibility to repay the father for the son's purchases. So why should Apple be responsible for the gaming purchases?

All these phony fraud claims are made simply to avoid paying the consequences of bad judgment.

Someone should tell the father about iTunes prepaid cards.
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Old Mar 28, 2013, 08:35 PM   #16
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Never use a Credit Card with your iTunes account. Easy Peasy.
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Old Mar 28, 2013, 08:44 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by rdowns View Post
Tired of irresponsible parents and stories like these. That said, Apple could avoid all of this if they would ship phones with in-app purchases turned off or require you to acknowledge that in-app purchases are possible when you register your device.
They could use an opt-in feature. They could allow for weekly or monthly purchase limits to be set. There are millions of ipads in the wild, and such features would still be useful for responsible parents.
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Old Mar 28, 2013, 09:13 PM   #18
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There's a large tech gap between many teens and their parents. My father was in his mid 50's when I was 13. Another things to remember is that a human brain isn't fully developed until at least 18, possibly later for men. When you combine immaturity with ignorance, you end up with big problems. In this case, a $3000 problem. Yes people need to take responsibility, but so does Apple.

Lets say 50 years from now, when the holodeck from Star Trek is invented and in everyone's house, and you tell your kid "Only download the free simulations", and the kid is 13, and doesn't fully comprehend what he's doing, and goes into only free simulations and plays the **** out of them, and comes out with a $30000 bill (inflation :P ), whose fault is that? You gave him limits, but it's so alien to you, you relied on his judgment, just like you used his judgment to help you use the teleporter (email).

Yes the dad and kid did the dirty deed, but Apple supplied the rope to hang themselves with.
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Old Mar 28, 2013, 10:47 PM   #19
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The father didn't bother to check his credit card statements for 3 months ?

The father didn't notice the hundreds of emails from Apple on the purchases ?

I wonder what the father (a Police Constable) thinks when questioning suspects who say "it's not my fault" ?
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Old Mar 29, 2013, 09:55 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by thejadedmonkey View Post
There's a large tech gap between many teens and their parents. My father was in his mid 50's when I was 13. Another things to remember is that a human brain isn't fully developed until at least 18, possibly later for men. When you combine immaturity with ignorance, you end up with big problems. In this case, a $3000 problem. Yes people need to take responsibility, but so does Apple.

Lets say 50 years from now, when the holodeck from Star Trek is invented and in everyone's house, and you tell your kid "Only download the free simulations", and the kid is 13, and doesn't fully comprehend what he's doing, and goes into only free simulations and plays the **** out of them, and comes out with a $30000 bill (inflation :P ), whose fault is that? You gave him limits, but it's so alien to you, you relied on his judgment, just like you used his judgment to help you use the teleporter (email).

Yes the dad and kid did the dirty deed, but Apple supplied the rope to hang themselves with.
The Dad obviously gave the kid his password, had is account tied to in-app purchases, and at 13 the kid absolutely knew what he was doing.

Apple bears no responsibility for irresponsible parenting.

Also remember this was over months, it wasn't an instant purchase.
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Old Mar 29, 2013, 10:05 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by RawBert View Post
The story's written a little funny but it'll make you shake your head. ...or facepalm, if you prefer.


Shouldn't the father be charged with fraud? Or at least charged with being a jerk.
I'm familiar with cases where parents have gotten nasty surprises because their 4-year-old used real money to buy artifacts in an iPad game, whereupon the parents contacted the developers (and Apple) for reimbursement. But this is way too far. If the "plaintiff" had coerced the "defendant" to compensate, either by cash or by signing an IOU, I would understand it better. But how can a father file a police-report against his own son over such matters??
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Old Mar 29, 2013, 06:18 PM   #22
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If the purchases were made by the 13-year-old son using the father's credit card, then the son should get a job and repay his father. Or work off the debt by doing chores around the house.

Had that kid used his father's credit card to throw a party for his schoolmates, the store supplying the party goods certainly has no responsibility to repay the father for the son's purchases. So why should Apple be responsible for the gaming purchases?
1. The son wouldn't be able to get a job. Maybe you propose he should travel to China and get a job at Foxconn, but no luck: They don't hire anyone under 16.

2. It is an absolutely established principle that when someone enters a contract who is underage, or with limited mental capability, then that contract is voidable, and can be voided at any time by the person or their guardian. If the other party suffers as a result, that's their problem.

3. Had the son emptied his bank account (or piggy bank) to throw a party for his schoolmates, the father could, completely rightfully, demand all the money back. You'd have to make a good argument why this isn't the case when he used the dad's credit card.

Apple has arguments in this case, mostly that this all happened over the course of three months, with probably a few hundred e-mails sent to the dad, before these purchases were stopped. But your blanket opinion that this would be so in every case is wrong.


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Originally Posted by Plutonius View Post
I wonder what the father (a Police Constable) thinks when questioning suspects who say "it's not my fault" ?
The father is a police constable????? I said before, claiming that the son did something illegal is a dangerous game. If a _police constable_ makes such a claim, that could be professional suicide. Imagine some crook is in court, and this police constable is a witness. And the defense ask "did you ever claim that someone committed a crime whe you fully knew that wasn't the case? "
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Old Mar 30, 2013, 07:37 AM   #23
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A contract with with a minor may be voidable - but the father presumably then needs to prove that it was the son who entered the password every time, surely?

From a PR perspective if the local police force don't do everything they would do for any other accusation of fraud then the PR issue isn't with the CC company or Apple, it is with the police...
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Old Mar 30, 2013, 08:04 AM   #24
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Back in early 90's my dad gave me a credit card for a travel and I spent loads of money in CDs... it happens.

When ever you give a kid a credit card the kid will spend the money just like women do.
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Old Mar 30, 2013, 08:21 AM   #25
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Dang, and to think I used to feel bad when I was a kid and I'd blown my entire $20 bill at the video arcade. What has the world come to when a kid's video game costs thousands of dollars to enjoy? Blame the dad, blame the kid, but really. Thousands of pounds for in game charges on a device that's already made Apple and game developers vast fortunes > completely ridiculous. Thirteen year olds are not supposed to make responsible decisions at that age and Apple is taking advantage of this.
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