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6 Year Old Racks Up Thousands In Credit Card Debt On Sonic

A six-year-old boy in Wilton, Connecticut left his mother shocked recently when it was discovered that he had unknowingly racked up more than $16,000 in Apple App Store charges while playing Sonic Forces on his iPad. When the mother reached out to Apple to explain the situation and dispute the charges, the company was less than helpful, as she explained to the New York Post.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, 41-year-old real estate broker Jessica Johnson has worked from home while her younger of two sons, George Johnson, kept himself busy playing Sonic Forces. Little did Jessica know that while she was working, her son was building up some pretty hefty credit card debt. During the month of July, the boy began spending real money on add-on boosters — first $1.99 on red rings, then $99.99 on gold rings. These add-ons unlocked new characters and speeds. On July 9 in particular, George spent $2,500 across 25 charges.

Jessica Johnson explained to NY Post that she noticed PayPal and Apple withdrawing large sums from her Chase account and assumed it was fraud because there were no itemized charges to reveal that they were from George's game. She said it was "almost impossible" to tell with the way the charges were bundled.


In July, Johnson filed a fraud claim when the charges hit $16,293.10. However, Chase didn't tell her until October that the charges were from her own account and that she should contact Apple. Upon doing just that, Johnson said that Apple couldn't help her. "[Apple] said, 'Tough.' They told me that, because I didn't call within 60 days of the charges, that they can't do anything," she said. Johnson also explained that she didn't call sooner because Chase said it was likely fraud.

Furthermore, Johnson said that Apple told her she should have used Apple's parental control settings to prevent the purchases, but Jessica had not been aware of those settings. The mother is now struggling to pay her mortgage and is unsure if she can purchase Christmas gifts. She said that she did explain to George what he had done, but she feels that the blame lies with Apple and "completely predatory" games that "get kids to buy things." 

Mobile gaming and the microtransactions that come with them have become an even bigger deal since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a report from NewZoo, all game segments (PC, console, and mobile) have seen an increase in engagement and revenues due to the pandemic, but mobile gaming increased the most. "In total, mobile games will generate revenues of $77.2 billion in 2020, growing +13.3% year on year," the report read. 


In fact, miHoYo's Genshin Impact alone raked in almost $400 million during its first two months, and Sensor Tower reports that Apple's app store accounted for most of the in-game spending.