(The Daily Mail) - When he discovered he had run up a £3,700 bill 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’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 PC with Avon and Somerset Police. He contacted the national Action Fraud helpline in the hope of getting his money back from Apple.
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.
Mr Crossan, of Clevedon, Somerset, said yesterday: ‘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.
‘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.
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.
Mr Crossan said: ‘There was no indication in the game that he was being charged for any of the clicks made within it.
‘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.
But Mr Crossan said: ‘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.
‘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.
Virgin Money has declined to comment on the case.
With more than half a billion active accounts, the App Store is the most popular online marketplace in the world.
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 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 £66million in compensation to parents whose children ran up huge bills. The case is unlikely to affect British families.