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UK officer reports son for fraud to reclaim App Store money
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Mar 25, 2013, 10:12 AM
 
A UK policeman, Doug Crossnan, has reported his 13-year-old son Cameron for fraud after he spent £3,700 on in-game purchases on his iPad, the Daily Mail reports. Doug tells the paper that his son was unaware he was being charged for the purchases, but that Apple has so far refused to make a refund. The fraud charge, he explains, is now the only way to recoup the money, since he needs a crime reference number for any hope of a claim.

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

Cameron has had the iPad since December, when he and other students at his school received them as learning aids. Doug registered his credit card info with Apple when he bought an album on the device; this, though, appears to have opened the door to Cameron making over 300 purchases in games such as Plants vs. Zombies and N.O.V.A. 3. The games are all third-party titles hosted on Apple's App Store.

"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," says Doug. "He [Cameron] innocently thought that, because it was advertised as a free game, the clicks would not cost anything." Apple, though, has insisted that it was Doug's responsibility to watch over the iPad, and that the tablet has password locks to block unwanted purchases.

In the past few years a variety of parents have brought complaints against Apple over in-app purchases, including formal lawsuits. An increasing number of games have adopted a "freemium" model -- meaning that they're initially free, but that people must pay for some in-game items, expansions, and currency using real money. Some of the games don't make it clear that real money is involved, and Apple's own attempts to make in-app purchases quick and seamless have made it easy for children make downloads accidentally. The company recently added an "Offers In-App Purchases" warning to App Store pages, but only on the desktop version of the storefront.
( Last edited by NewsPoster; Mar 25, 2013 at 10:25 AM. )
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 10:41 AM
 
What a moron! 300 purchases? He is saying that his son (13-years old!!!) clicked on the button "Confirm Your Purchase. Do you want to buy extra (whatever) for $3.99 ($0.99, $4.99, etc.)?" And there is a BUY button that you have to tap on.

He (dad) also gave his son a password where the credit card info is stored. It is like giving him an actual credit card with a PIN code and he is surprised receiving a huge bill?

Let me ask you, dad, do you read your emails? Apple sends a statement by email very couple of days. You didn't see £££££ billed to your credit card? And now you are suing you son? "Really I just want to embarrass Apple as much as possible" - REALLY? Looks like you are embarrassing yourself, you son and your family......
----
You got an idea?
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 10:52 AM
 
This guy is truly showing his son how to be an adult huh?
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 10:58 AM
 
So he's a moron, has no accountability, blah blah blah.

Wait until it happens to you.
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 11:12 AM
 
Yes, he is. No, he does. No, it won't. Ever.
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 11:13 AM
 
No, he doesn't. Sigh.
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 11:18 AM
 
uh, responsible people look at their credit card statements.
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 11:42 AM
 
Isn't it a crime to use the legal system this way when his son is actually only guilty of stupidity (obviously runs in the family)
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 12:07 PM
 
This is sad for several reasons:

1. The various app descriptions on the iOS App Store (bottom of the page) will clearly state if the app uses the IAP model.
2. Every time the user clicks on a IAP link, they will always receive a "Do you want to purchase this?" message box that requires a Yes/No response.
3. Apple will always send the AppleID account holder an email receipt detailing the purchases made on the account.

I find it very hard to believe that neither he nor his son had any clue about this.
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 12:41 PM
 
Easy fix is for the parent to put a prepaid credit card on the account.
"Like a midget at a urinal, I was going to have to stay on my toes." Frank Drebin, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 12:48 PM
 
your comment
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 01:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by Bobfozz View Post
your comment
LOL

Apparently including the front page picture in the actual article is too difficult for MacNN to figure out.
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 01:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by NewsPoster View Post
An increasing number of games have adopted a "freemium" model -- meaning that they're initially free, but that people must pay for some in-game items, expansions, and currency using real money. Some of the games don't make it clear that real money is involved...
N.O.V.A. 3... this is Gameloft's new business model now; sucking revenue from parents via their children (e.g. My Little Pony). Also, if Apple would just make "require password" default to the value of "immediately" (which you are FORCED to enable "restrictions"), then this wouldn't fawking happen.

And according to the article, the kid made 300 purchases less than 15 minutes of each other. Which means all of them would appear on a single invoice from Apple (which he may have missed), and wouldnt' show up on his credit card statement until the end of the billing cycle.
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 02:15 PM
 
I buy only Apple gift card for the account refill. Yes, my kid do click on "buy" button without my consent sometimes.
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 03:14 PM
 
In app purchasing itself is a fraud.
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 03:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by JohnD View Post
In app purchasing itself is a fraud.
Really - in what way does it provide something other than what it promises you?

There's nothing wrong with in-app purchasing in and of itself. Some vendors use it in non-sleazy ways. PCalc uses it for extra features, TinyTower uses it if you are too lazy to wait for your stuff to sell. There's nothing wrong with that.

I agree, some companies use it in sleazy ways sometimes, but ultimately, some companies use any commercial venue in sleazy ways. In-app purchase is no different.
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 03:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by Grendelmon View Post
And according to the article, the kid made 300 purchases less than 15 minutes of each other. Which means all of them would appear on a single invoice from Apple (which he may have missed), and wouldnt' show up on his credit card statement until the end of the billing cycle.
Do you think that pressing buy and confirming so many purchases (that tell you that you are about to be charged real money every time) in such a short amount of time the kid didn't realize what was happening?
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 04:19 PM
 
Originally Posted by Grendelmon View Post
And according to the article, the kid made 300 purchases less than 15 minutes of each other. Which means all of them would appear on a single invoice from Apple (which he may have missed), and wouldnt' show up on his credit card statement until the end of the billing cycle.
Neither the MacNN nor the Daily Mail article says that, and it can't be true. The actual article says:

Cameron then racked up more than 300 purchases on games such as Plants vs Zombies, Hungry Shark, Gun Builder and Nova 3.
Since you have to click a confirmation dialogue every time you make an IAP, I don't even think it would be possible to make 300 purchases within 15 minutes in the same game, much less three separate ones, in 15 minutes--that would require tapping a purchase and confirming it every 3 seconds for 15 minutes straight, plus however long it took to switch games.

But the article says nothing about him having given his son the password; in fact, in the Daily Mail article it's rather implied he did. The guy's defense isn't that his son shouldn't have been able to rack up vast charges in the 15 minute window, it's that he wasn't aware that it was costing real money to click those things in "free" games.

Of course, it did mean that the kid was ignoring large text warnings that clearly state what you're doing is going to cost you real money, and then asks for an account password (if you haven't entered it recently). Kids never read pop-ups, of course, so there's some real argument to be made that it's predatory, but It also means that he was given the ability to make such purchases by being given an access to an account with a card associated with it.

And while it's very true that Apple only sends you an email receipt once a day, from the Mail article:

Mr Crossan only found out about Cameron's spending when he cancelled the direct debit for the credit card, believing it was clear, and MBNA Virgin contacted him to reveal more than £3,000 was still outstanding.
...which does not sound like it happened within 24 hours of the kid racking up these huge bills (it actually doesn't say anywhere that they were all purchased within 1 day, and it's generally implied they weren't).

So the question is whether the guy wasn't checking his email, it was getting spam filtered, or he was just ignoring it.

I strongly dislike like the fremium model, personally, and I can imagine legitimate ways that all these things could have happened, but there was a lot of sloppy behavior on the part of the parent here, and there's no sense giving him more of the benefit of the doubt than he deserves.
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 04:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by hayesk View Post
Do you think that pressing buy and confirming so many purchases (that tell you that you are about to be charged real money every time) in such a short amount of time the kid didn't realize what was happening?
The fact that he did 300 times answers your question.
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 05:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by Grendelmon View Post
Also, if Apple would just make "require password" default to the value of "immediately" (which you are FORCED to enable "restrictions"), then this wouldn't fawking happen.
Grendelmon, apparently you haven't made an in-app purchase in quite some time. *ALL* in-app purchases require a password, even if you just entered the password five seconds earlier. There was a time when this wasn't true -- two years ago -- but Apple closed that loophole with iOS 4.3 IIRC.

Apple is absolutely right to stand their ground on this one. Should this get to court, it will be laughed at. Heartily. All Apple has to do is show the judge exactly how to make an in-app purchase, and the judge will immediately see the same thing everyone here knows: that kid knew exactly what he was doing, even if he is mentally handicapped in some manner.

Also, love the "where does Apple get off" quote. First off, it's the developer not Apple and second are there any grownups at your house, sir? There don't appear to be.
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Mar 25, 2013, 05:29 PM
 
"...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."

Morally? So a fraud charge against your son seemed like the right way to handle it?
Technically, the software developer charges for the game. Visiting Toys 'R Us must be like going walking through Hades for this guy, eh?
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 06:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by Grendelmon View Post
The fact that he did 300 times answers your question.
In life there are consequences for actions...while the child was acting out (or just infatuated with in-game add-ons) why should Apple pay? Unless they (Apple) was negligent, the parent should pay this...and in turn make the child work it off.
"Like a midget at a urinal, I was going to have to stay on my toes." Frank Drebin, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 10:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by Makosuke View Post
Since you have to click a confirmation dialogue every time you make an IAP, I don't even think it would be possible to make 300 purchases within 15 minutes in the same game, much less three separate ones, in 15 minutes--that would require tapping a purchase and confirming it every 3 seconds for 15 minutes straight, plus however long it took to switch games.
No, that's not how it works. It's a 15 minute timeout for the password. You're always required to "confirm" the purchase, but if you already made one within 15 minutes of supplying your password, it won't ask you to retype the password again. So he could very much make 300 purchases, every 14 minutes. Ignoring the confirmations, obviously, but he wouldn't have to retype his father's password.
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 10:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by chas_m View Post
Grendelmon, apparently you haven't made an in-app purchase in quite some time. *ALL* in-app purchases require a password, even if you just entered the password five seconds earlier. There was a time when this wasn't true -- two years ago -- but Apple closed that loophole with iOS 4.3 IIRC.
Sigh... You really have no idea what you're talking about. Please refer to:

iTunes Store: About In-App Purchases

See section "Buying an In-App Purchase"

...and read my previous reply to Makosuke.
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 10:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by Makosuke View Post
Neither the MacNN nor the Daily Mail article says that, and it can't be true.
Actually, you're right. When I read:

...when he bought an album on the device...
I misinterpreted it, thinking he then immediately handed the iPad to his kid.
     
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Mar 25, 2013, 11:21 PM
 
None of these arguments going on here consider one point - there is a switch to prevent in-app purchases from taking place. There are like four points of failure here on a device security level, all preventable by the parent. Plus, the N.O.V.A. and PvZ IAP screens are VERY clear that there's real money involved.

And before you ask, yes I do have kids, and one of them does play with an iOS device.
     
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Mar 28, 2013, 07:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by Grendelmon View Post
No, that's not how it works. It's a 15 minute timeout for the password. [...] So he could very much make 300 purchases, every 14 minutes. Ignoring the confirmations, obviously, but he wouldn't have to retype his father's password.
I think you figured out what I was getting at, but just to be clear, I understand that, and what I said still stands. Even without having to enter the password (if you haven't enabled that in the account settings), you still have to click an "okay" confirmation dialogue for every single in-app-purchase, as explained on Apple's help page. If you buy twice, you need to confirm twice, regardless of settings.

And my point was simply that you cannot possibly tap on 300 purchases and "okay" dialogues (given the delay while the game contacts the server to request the purchase and register it) within 15 minutes. I honestly think it takes more than 3 seconds for the tap-contact-dialogue-okay-transaction process to complete, even if the kid had the patience to do it 300 times in a row.

All that said, apple should probably default the require-password-for-every-IAP checkbox to "on", but there's no indication that it would have helped in this situation, since the kid apparently had the password anyway.

And to EstaNightshift--I was taking that into account when I said "... a lot of sloppy behavior on the part of the parent here..." I can sort of see how a particularly ignorant user could have fallen into this trap through a series of failures, but you have to have ignored multiple points at which you were given ample opportunity to prevent your child from spending your money freely. Didn't need to give him the password, didn't need to associate a credit card with the account (there is that "none" option), could have turned off IAP entirely.

Of course, since the kid had the account password, if he had been competent enough he could have turned IAP back on anyway, even if it had been disabled...
     
   
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