Policeman Reports Son For Fraud Over $5,620 iTunes Bill

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Stories about kids who gain access to their parents’ iTunes passwords and run up huge bills on apps and in-app purchases are becoming all too common. The latest, concerning 13-year-old Cameron Crossan from the U.K., has an interesting twist.

When Cameron ran up a £3,700 ($5,620) iTunes bill playing iPad games, his father, policeman Doug Crossan, called Apple to get a refund. Apple refused to give the Crossans their money back, so Doug went down a different route. He reported his son for fraud.

Doug claims Cameron was unaware that he was being charged for the in-app purchases, but at 13, he’s much older than the kids who usually go on App Store spending binges courtesy of their parents’ credit cards. When Doug explained the situation to Apple, the Cupertino company wasn’t interested, and it refused to give a penny back.

So Doug called the Action Fraud helpline and reported Cameron for credit card fraud, knowing his son could be arrested and taken for questioning — by his Doug’s colleagues.

“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,” Doug told The Daily Mail. “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,” Doug added. “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.”

But of course, it’s not Apple’s fault. First, it’s the developer that decides to charge for additional in-game content, and then it’s up to parents to ensure that their kids can’t spend money “accidentally” when using iOS devices.

You could also argue that at 13, Cameron’s old enough to read the notifications iOS gives you prior to making App Store purchases. After all, he did make more than 300 purchases. It’s easy to dismiss a notification once, maybe even twice, and not really take any notice of what it said. But 300 times?

Cameron told his father that he didn’t know he was spending money because the games were initially free to download.

“None of us had any knowledge of what was happening as there was no indication in the game that he was being charged for any of the clicks made within it,” Doug said. “He innocently thought that, because it was advertised as a free game, the clicks would not cost anything.”

Doug now believes Apple has “duped” Cameron into making purchases he wasn’t aware of. He didn’t find out about the hefty iTunes bill until he cancelled the direct debit for his credit card, thinking he had finished paying off his balance. Virgin then contacting him to say he had more than £3,000 still outstanding.

Earlier this year, 5-year-old Danny Kitchen from the U.K. amassed a $2,550 iTunes bill in just 10 minutes after buying additional content within an iPad game. In this case, Apple agreed to refund the fees.

  • technochick

    This guy is a triple jerk.

    1. Embarrassing his child both with this act and by giving out the kids name to press.
    2. Waste of police resources, particularly when it is possible no act of fraud took place. It doesn’t say the kid hacked his dads account etc.
    3. It was his responsibility to monitor and educate his son. With all the press going on of late, especially when the last two big cases were in the UK can Daddy really say he had no clue that such purchases were in some games. Or that he didn’t know about restrictions etc. it was his job to use those tools, talk to his kid etc. and how did ‘little’ Cameron make those charges. The card would have to be on an account that he knew the password for, especially since it sounds like it was over a period of days and several games. So was Dad stupid enough to give the password to his account to his son or out his card on his son’s account. Seems to me in either case that’s not fraud since by committing either act you gave permission for such access and use.

    And I’d love to hear the actual call to Apple. A guy that would do this to his kid was probably a jerk on the phone as well which could be why they didn’t give him even a partial refund. Terms and conditions when you sign up for an iTunes account do say that all sales are final and it’s your job to take appropriate measures to protect your account. If he doesn’t like those terms, he could sue sure. He might even win and get his money and maybe Apple will have to release iOS 6.1.4 and beyond with the IAP restriction turned on by default or force a change in terms that no game or other app rated as suitable for any age under 18 can have IAP or ads and the age restrictions against downloading ‘adult’ apps is in by default. Set up some kind of age test where folks can prove they are grownups and get the drill and take responsibility and then they can get the code to adjust it themselves instead of Apple treating them like they are stupid babies. Nothing can go wrong there right. No bad press or such

  • Singh Amardeep

    PIGS PIGS PIGS….SMH lol

  • fmaxwell

    The kid is 13 and can’t enter into a contract. The father did not authorize the son to make the purchases — failing to lock in-app purchases out via a technical means is not the same as authorizing the kid to make the purchases. Therefore, this was credit card fraud. it’s no different than the kid getting dad’s credit card out and buying a bunch of products online.

    The average cop does not have $5K+ lying around, so I understand why the father is taking this approach. Despite what some on the far right would have you believe, most cops make modest salaries.

  • technochick

    The kid is 13 and can’t enter into a contract. The father did not authorize the son to make the purchases

    While you are correct that in general the laws don’t consider a 13 year old a valid party to a legal binding deal, those laws get a tad iffy regarding an adult putting a credit card on an account where said 13 year old seems to know the password. Some of them, many perhaps, would consider giving the child such information as authorizing any transactions.

    And regardless of that, how about the moral responsibility to supervise your child and his activities. Not to mention the abusive behavior of reporting your child to the police in an attempt to get him arrested, publicly tossing his name and face around the media etc. It’s not Apple that’s going to be embarrassed. They have their terms and conditions and the measures they put in their software ages ago to stem any ‘embarrassment’ and possibly any lawsuits. Particularly ones by parents that admit they downloaded age inappropriate games without researching them and so on. The lawsuit referenced in the the source article was for incidents prior to the most current software. And certainly prior to the massive amounts of press over the issue.

    As for embarrassing Apple over such IAP in ‘kids games’ these people need to keep in mind that Apple is a store, not a developer. They don’t set the price. If they want to stop the developers they need to get laws set even sue companies like Rovio etc directly. Because they are the ones that set the prices, create the buttons etc. They are the ones that are ‘duping’ kids not Apple

  • victorlazari

    well, his daddy is a stupid jerk…

    and first, ’cause some educations actions hadn’t done.
    He didn’t take to his responsibility as daddy, try to give some education or do the right thing.
    Other is, his father didn’t authorize his son, BUT the dad has given the ipad to his child. Probably with the account already registered in his name and with credit card and everything else.

    Now, he is trying to blame your own child?
    Fucking asshole.

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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