Son makes £3,700 in app purchases, policeman father reports him for fraud

A U.K. policeman has reported his own 13-year-old son for fraud after the young man racked up a £3,700 charge for in-app purchases on his iPad that Apple refused to refund. The officer, Doug Crossan, says that his son was not aware that he was being charged for these downloads, and that he wants Apple to cancel the charge. Apple has refused to do so, so in order to get his money back, he reported the purchases as fraudulent.

So Mr Crossan, of Clevedon, North Somerset, has reported Cameron to the Action Fraud helpline - meaning it is now up to the police to decide if a crime has been committed.He said: '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.’

What this means for Officer Crossan’s son Cameron is that he could get brought in and questioned by his father’s colleagues about this. Apple has safeguards in place to prevent this sort of thing from happening, and its position is that it is up to the parents to make sure that their children’s App Store purchases are under control. The iTunes store requires authorization in order to make an in-app purchase, including a password. Officer Crossan’s credit card details were on the iPad because he purchased an album through it. His position is that because the games were free initially, that they did not expect to be charged.

So, should Officer Crossan get his refund? Or should he simply moniter his son’s purchasing habits better, and not leave his credit card details on his child’s device?

Source: The Daily Mail

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.

  • Tough love lol
  • Gift. Cards.
  • I think he should monitor his son's purchasing habits better because it's pretty much easy to restrict in-app purchase in the settings of an iPad (or iPhone)
  • Smart phone. Dumb user.
  • Ding Ding! Best. Response. Ever. Except it was a tablet.
  • lol. I was about to praise this comment until I read yours.. Both of you are smart though!!
  • Not only does it confirm if you want to purchase the item but you have to also put your password in to buy it. A 13 year old kid is old enough to understand those prompts and the father should be monitoring his son's actions better.
  • Personally I wouldn't let the child have access to my password. If they had their own account it would be based on gift cards.
  • This is just a perfect example of the problems of the "freemium" app. Yes, parents should be monitoring their kids usage and seeing which apps they are downloading. But Apple just added the warning on their App Store last week and when parents gave their children their tablet prior to that, their understanding would be that the game was completely free. Definitely should be given some sort of refund. But the new labelling Apple introduced I think will put an end to any sort of refunds.
  • I disagree. It's not like you can accidentally click a button and boom purchased. It pops up a window telling you it will charge you "x-amount" of dollars then has you type your password. I also think this guy is a moron as he is proving it's not fraud but a case of an idiot kid. That's like crying to a store if your kid steals your credit card and buys a bunch of stuff. It's not the stores fault fully (yes they should check ID) but your kid should be held liable and you should make THEM pay for it to teach them a lesson.
  • Actually, just a quick correction. You are not required to show any id with a credit card purchase. The clerk can ask you for it, but according to the merchant agreement they have with the credit card companies, they are not supposed to be able to deny your card if you refuse to show it.
    Might sound ridiculous, but that's how it works.
  • Really? That might help if you are using your relative's card, but it also conveniently works for thieves too.
  • I don't understand why the would think the game was completely free. I've been doing in app purchases for years from "free" apps and I've never thought the in app purchases were free. You need to confirm the amount of money you are spending and agree to buy.
  • You have to put in a password every single time u purchase something! Not sure how this is Apples fault that the parents are dumb enough to give a 13 year old their password! How about the parents be responsible for their account? Doesn't anybody take accountability anymore, it's always someone else's fault?? Smh
  • Absolutely. I kinda hate how they try to get around what has happened. You can TURN OFF IN APP PURCHASING. Also, each fucking time you need to put in your password. Why does your 13 year old son have your password? Dumbfuck. I hate people whining for bad things happening to them when they are the ones at fault.
  • Amen!
    Shocking that a police officer is trying to abuse his position and knowledge of the law to try and skew the system.
    I hope he not only doesn't get away with it with his colleagues help but he is looked at by his superiors for his actions!
    As everyone else has said there are plenty of safe guards in place and how dumb do you have to be to not realise your making an in-app PURCHASE the clue is in the name!
    My kids need me to enter the password whenever an app is downloaded, even if its Free, let alone paid apps and in-app purchases are disabled!
    If your too dumb to use the tools Apple has put at your disposal, don't give out ur AppStore password to your kids at the very least!
  • My 13 yr old has her own iTunes account and we only use gift cards. When they are gone that's it and she knows it so is only buying what she wants and not all this crap. I wouldn't trust them with my iTunes account password. Not that I would think that she would do anything like this but to teach her responsibility. It's essentially her money and she can buy what she wants but she knows how quick it can go with frivolous spending.
  • You're doing it right. This is a great opportunity to teach kids financial responsibility with a small amount of cash and limited risk, and it's nice to see people taking advantage of it.
  • He's 13 years old. He's old enough to understand what he's doing. As well as the fact that there needs to be consequences.
  • Smartphones are only as smart as their users.
    Blame the Dad for not turning on parental control
    Blame the teen for not spending money responsibly.
  • Parents need to do a better job of explaining to their children the costs of apps. Unless it is completely free, it can't be purchased or anything within the app should not be able to be purchased without the parents permission. I DO think that Apple needs to put bigger security measures in place for instances like this. For example, there should been an option to turn off in-app purchases. The fact that this cop is abusing his authority because he knows the law is not right. He should have been monitoring his child's use of the iPad, and why did he give the kid access to the password required to make these purchases?
  • There is an option an option to turn off IAP. It's in the parental control settings pane. It's as clear as day. Apple has done enough to prevent this from happening. It's up to the users to be a little more responsible. I wouldn't trust my teen with a bank card or credit card led alone a device that has and uses that information. And how does the kid know the password to begin with?
  • Another reason to not have in-app purchases allowed at all. If an app is free, it needs to be 100% totally free. Sell a paid version with all the options.
  • Exactly.
  • I'm all for only having free & paid apps only, BUT this is definitaly NOT one of the reasons....just a dumb ass cop abusing his power & his dumb ass kid (that more than likely knew exactly what he was doing)
  • >.< don't give the damn kid your password. These stories are beyond ridiculous and the worst part is they will probably win the case.
  • With so many ways to make sure this doesn't happen, their is no one else to blame
  • being a 13 year old he must have known what he was doing, he probably didn't care since it wasn't his money. it is an interesting way to punish him though lol
  • It's actually the father that is committing fraud here. And he's publicly providing the proof by declaring to the world what he is doing. You can't fix stupid. So pay the bill and move on.
  • in app purchases are of the devil! Seriously, this trend of "freemium" games and software have got to go! Not a fan of these sleezy business practices.
  • This is the new big scam these app makers are using. All of these freemium apps are geared towards kids games because they want things like this to happen. It's pathetic.
  • This sort of thing drives me nuts. Of course it's hard to manage what your kids are doing! That's what makes them better people! It may be easier to buy an electronic device to do it, but then you raise a sociopath.
  • Pay the bill dad, then have the kid work it off and learn a lesson as well. Change your password, enable the security available, and face the music And, charge him interest on the balance, just like your CC company is going to do to you.
  • Definitely get a refund. Apple needs to take responsibility. Free apps should mean free apps. All these in-app purchase abilities should be turned off by default by Apple.
  • Settings -> General -> Restrictions -> Enable -> In-App purchases should be OFF, by default. Maybe even have a pop-up when buying in-app purchases, or ask for the last three of your card, so you know it is charging you money. Then I don't think it's Apple's fault, but until then, it's kind of both people's fault. I tried to post the link to the way to disable In-App, but it was marked as spam, and not sure why, just Google HT4213, and it's under the second pull-down on Apple's support site.
  • Tough, but I don't think there's any fraud here. My nieces and nephews are usually playing with my iPod Touch or iPhone and they stumble across stuff that they shouldn't be playing with - in app purchases to be exact. But obviously, i have it set to prompt for a password and it thus doesn't allow 'em to do harm to my credit ;)
  • Apple has done SOOO much to combat these things and has done a pretty good job so far! It's the parents fault for giving the child his password!
  • Wow, that's unfortunate. I think they should meet halfway. This will teach him to put parameters on the device to prevent those purchases. I'm glad apple has place the in app purchase notification on these apps. That should help as well.
  • "Yes" to all questions. 1) Little question a 13 year old knew what he was doing.
    2) Little question the parent should have been monitoring purchases better or have turned off in-app purchases. Taken together, you can argue #1 and #2 are signs of stupid and/or neglectful behavior. However, Apple is selling to the masses, in the millions -- and that is going to include a lot of stupid and/or neglectful people. If Apple wants to keep them as customers or just minimize the bad PR around cases like this, they need to provide some protection. For example, Apple could allow the user to specify a monthly cap on the amount of iTunes purchases a single account can make, and perhaps even set a given level by default. A debit card would more responsibly serve the same purpose, but people like Officer Crossan and son obviously did not think that far ahead. There is only so much one can do to protect somebody from themselves, but a few steps like that could help mitigate bad PR and Apple having to play the bad guy when customers make poor choices.
  • Note to self, never let a kid have access to something with my bank or credit card number attached to it. Gift cards only. On the other hand after a couple hundred dollars in charges apple should require a password again just in case.
  • This is not Apple's fault. A 13 old should know better and parents need to take responsibility for their child's behavior. Not only does it tell you how much you are spending with each purchase, you have to enter a password each time. Furthermore, doesn't Apple send you an e-mail each day detailing the day's purchases? Also from what I understand, these purchases took place over a number of months, which means the parent was not checking his credit card each month. And there are ways to turn off IAP's as well. Not seeing how Apple is at fault.
  • The kid had to know that they were being charged. Like everyone else is saying, it tells you it is going to charge you X amount and asks for your password. If you gave your kid your password, well... I would say that you are responsible. Dad should pay up and make his kid get a job and pay off the debt he wracked up.
  • There is an email sent to your email account that is associated with apple ID every time a purchase has been made. You think the father would have caught on to the charges when the emails started to pile up.
  • Definitely refund! There are security measures for debit cards, but fraud still happens, and banks reimburse. And if lose can't legally use credit cards, and purchase should be voided and treated as fraud. Then take the iPad away from the kid.
  • As a dad who often lets my kids play with my iOS devices this situation seems to boil down to parenting. Or at least informing a kid how in-app purchases work. From using countless apps w/ this feature confirmation is always needed before a purchase. I applaud the dad's efforts to recoup the funds, but there was no fraud on Apple's part.
  • He should not get a refund!! Monitor your children on devices! There are many ways to protect yourself from your children making purchases on devices. Setup the Account without a credit card, turn off the ability to purchase in iTunes and the App Store directly on the device. Didnt the father start receiving emails about the purchases that were made? Could not have made all those purchases in one sitting.
  • I don't know what I would do if I got that bill.
  • I also believe that a refund shouldn't be given. This is clearly the parents fault! Obviously the kid has the appropriate itunes password for said account. Most all in-app purchases require a password. Sounds to me like ole' pops really wanted to get a high score!
  • You have to be responsible for what your kids cant just give them ipads and iphones and ipods and let them run amuck! You need to explain to them that they need to be responsible, because things cost money even when it seems like they are free. Heck, they should even pay for their own apps and stuff so they are more aware of what they do.
  • I don't think so. His kid is 13 not a 5 year old who kept touching things by accident. He should be watching his kid closely. I agree with Apple on this one. Maybe he can try reaching the developer of the app directly and see if they are willing to refund him for the "accident"
  • Nowhere in the article does it state that his son was using the fathers account.
    It appears as though the father attached his credit card to his sons account to buy an album (possibly for a gift?...who knows?).
    So logically, the password would be his *sons* password, not the fathers. What was he meant to do? Restrict his son from having an App Store account? You need one to "purchase" *any* apps, not just paid ones. As with most iDevices, you're pretty much stuck with the default apps without an App Store account.
  • Well you do need an account to purchase apps even free ones but the father could have taken the credit card off the payment options right after he allowed his son to make a paid purchase if that was even the case. You do NOT need to have a credit card or debit card for an iTunes account.
  • I don't know whether to laugh or feel sorry for the child. Although we know Apple is more than able to refund this man his money back, I think it's more so the principle and refunding this one means refunding all. Therefore I think Apple has to make the tough decision and say no and maybe suffer backlash from presumed media (which I'm sure will make it into a sappy story, etc.) However, the father AND child should be held accountable. As many have stated before, in-app purchases require a password and ask you to confirm the purchase all while stating (again) how much it will cost. My question is how did this child rack up that much money in one sitting? Did the father not recognize that his bank account was missing a few pounds? I mean isn't that like almost $5,600 dollars??? Poor management IMO.
  • While a 5 year old might not understand, I feel like a 13 year old should be old enough to. Sure, Apple could have originally implemented their in app purchases system better, but at least they finally made some fixes. It may not be the best of systems, but there's enough control to let parents prevent this kind of happening.
  • IAP was designed to allow scams and profiteering from exactly this type of scenario.
  • He probably provided his son the password so that the son could install free apps without nagging him all the time. I am not saying that it's right, but it's possible. I have never purchased an app, so I don't know how different is the screen for in-app purchasing and that for installing a free app. If they are similar enough, then he might have a point here. But who am I to say that? The devil's advocate? :P
  • He should be monitoring his iPad especially if it's a shared household item that holds credit card details. Apple has no doubt seen this plenty of times, but maybe if there was a multi-user log in option for parents and kids with sharing capacities of music and video downloads. This may just help reduce the unforeseen in-app charges. Options to tie a credit card to one account while the other account remains non-chargeable unless used by gift cards only.
  • I have a 9 year old son and a 6 year old daughter. I have an iPad, iTouch and Android Tablets with my card info on the account and it i password protected. Both of my Kids ask me or mom if they can get something on the app store. Also the other thing My son loves to read and read so he also has his own Kindle with a American Express Bluebird attached to it that he can use to by books or stuff on yes it is his money but he still ask before buying anything or we will find out. The Bottom Line it up to the parent to teach there kids about the devices and the cost and set up rules and password the account and not just trust the kid for kids will be kids. If my 9 and 6 year old can understand then so should the 13 year and the father.
  • Update: My kids started learning when the iPad 1 came out and they are now 9 and 6.
  • wow.... the guy used his own son to get back his money that he should've been in control of in the first place!! Also, anybody knows when they are about to make a purchase on any app within the app store from apple, because it will warn you and require a password. A 13 year old knows this for sure, he was just playing stupid and trying to get as much out of it as possible and then got busted. This whole family is screwed and would hate to be in it.
  • I have to try this some time, buy everything I see/want during the month, wait for the bill and then cry to Apple that my sister did it because she didn't know better. People have to stop taking the piss, assume their responsibilities, and stop being dumbasses (couldn't write the word I wanted to use) Dont pay him Apple. Otherwise they will never learn from their mistakes.
  • That is a shocking story for me.
    That child must be monitored when buying IAPS (by asking your parent or guardian who has an apple ID)
  • May I add,
    Not a fan of in app purchasing but apple must be responsible in disabling in app purchases because some customers loses money when accidentally buying IAPS
  • That's why you jailbreak and get apps for free fuck the developers with free content that makes u pay once ur playing hah that's the biggest rip off available to 13 year olds
    It went from buying a game with levels to pay an extra 5 for the next level haha jailbreak and steal your apps don't pAy greedy devs support those that have fair apps that don't rip people off