13-Year-Old Spends $5,600 in App Store, Father Reports Him for Fraud


Doug Crossan, a police officer in UK, has reported his 13-year-old son for fraud after Apple refused to refund the £3,700 (roughly $5,630) the child has spent while playing freemium apps on his iPad, according to The Telegraph.


The story is slightly similar to what we’ve reported earlier, but this time the happy ending is missing.

Cameron Crossan, the police officer’s son, “has “innocently” purchased apps and add-ons over three months from iTunes,” with roughly £77.98 each bill. This went seemingly unobserved by his parents. They were alerted by the Doug Crossan’s credit card company, who called to inform the police officer about the large outstanding balance, which he believed he had paid half a year ago.

After checking the bills, Crossan and his wife have found “more than 300 separate purchases of apps and extra software for games including Gun Bros 2, Nova 3, Plants v. Zombies, Jurassic Park, Infinity Blade, Hungry Shark and Gun Builder”.

The credit card company redirected the father to Apple, but the Cupertino company refused to refund the amount, saying that sales on iTunes are final.

As a final bid to claim his money back, the Crossans have taken the case to the police through the online crime reporting tool, Action Fraudline. This, however, also means his 13-year-old son will be arrested and questioned.

Crossan said: “We have asked Apple to consider our case in the same light, as the case is mirrored by him playing exactly the same free games, but Apple have refused by saying the sale on iTunes is final and no refund.

“Apple iTunes are now refusing to speak to me or give me an idea of why they will not refund. They sent me a copy of the terms and conditions stating that all purchases are final and further contact should be by way of a solicitor.”

“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 the game.”

This case certainly raises the red flag for parents. How do you fend off these types of issues?


  • When a 4-year old buys games purchases because it was in the password-remember window, good on Apple to refund even though they don’t have to.

    When a 13-year old does it whom you gave your password to, that’s on you buddy. You fucked up, you gotta pay. There is all sorts of notices on exactly how much is being charged. Apple knows this, knows they don’t have a leg to stand on, knows they’re trying to commit fraud, so rightfully refused.

  • Corey

    What do you mea. How do parents fend this off. How about dont attach a credit card to a kids Idevices or make sure they don’t know the password.

  • Ur

    I should let my wife drive my car for 5 years and than say .. “oh she charged to much for gas on my CC can i get it back now!”

  • Navan

    Parents! Use the parental controls! They’re there for a reason! That there was no indication a payment was being made is BS- there’s tons of them! Even for us adults who wish we could somehow turn it off. I don’t hand any iDevice to a child unless I’ve turned on the parental controls. And for younger children I lock them in using Guided Access. You can’t just ignore what your kid is doing and then blame Apple. You screwed up. Get your child arrested if you want, but you’re still going to have to pay.

  • This is so ridiculous. Dad wants to point fingers at everyone else except who they really should be pointed at: his son and himself. Even moreso himself for #1 not looking at his credit card statements, #2 paying them blindly, #3 trying to work the system and waste taxpayer’s money on criminal charges, #4 knowing full well (I hope) that this is all shenanigans attempting to guilt Apple into refunding him for his own errors, #5 thinking that this would not blow up in his face, #6 teaching his child, who I firmly believe was completely aware of the charges he was putting on dad’s credit card, that it’s okay to try to work the system to get yourself off. All of this from a police officer.

    After all that, this is the type of story that news agencies and news blogs should not even run in the first place, as the publicity is the only reason he is doing it.

  • gollum

    I guess these parents have’t heard that they can turn off the in-app purchases in the settings. It’s a simple solution that would put a stop to this. Like posted by other, just don’t let your kids have your iTunes password. At 13 there’s no excuse for this kid not knowing. My 6 year old knows not to click those buttons.

  • Jailbreak your device to get free apps?

  • jabohn

    Where is the fraud? I’ve played several of these “freemium” games and it’s quite clear what is free and what costs actual money. If the kid didn’t understand that then it’s not Apple’s fault. If the parents give kids free reign on the iDevices that are linked to their credit cards then it’s also not Apple’s fault.

  • Jeff

    I agree with others who have said that this is the father’s error. If nothing else, a cursory review of his credit card charges would have reduced this amount by catching it in the first month.

    As for how I manage it? I delete the credit card from the iTunes account once it’s created. Then I purchase iTunes cards (usually at a 20% discount when they’re on sale) and load them on the account. This gives the child a budget to work with, and eliminates over-spending.

  • voodoo_ca

    Why doesnt anyone want to take responsibility for actions these days?
    It creates a society where people think they can do whatever they want and not have to suffer any concequenses.

  • bradg17

    You sir, are absolutely right. No one is at fault here but the dad primarily, followed by the son.

  • Jon

    The fraud is the child using his parents card without permission. It is in fact the child pretending to be the parent agreeing. To make the purchase. The same is true of your wife uses your card. She’s not allowed even if its the same account. It is fraud.

  • Jon

    Yeah, because that’s entirely legal and way better than fraud,NOT!

  • Jon

    Yes you can cause she used your card, not hers, which is in fact federal fraud.

  • Anthony W

    These in app purchases are exactly similar to the roaming data charges. You shouldn’t blame Apple nor should you blame the carriers. It’s common sense. Why do you leave the iPhone/iPad to your kids like that? People think they can just let the media knows and get away with anything. Just no!

  • xxxJDxxx

    But isn’t a password required for these types of purchases?

  • idiot!

  • lolwhat

    It takes intelligence to be able to activate parental controls. We all know the average Apple user is a mindless moron. Of course Apple should refund the money in this case. The App (approved by Apple), nor the controls were idiot proofed.

  • I could see that if the son stole the credit card to set up his account, but if I give my wife my credit card, along with my PIN number and let her use it to go shopping and buy clothes, I shouldn’t be able to all of a sudden reverse a charge three months later because I didn’t like the clothes she bought. It’s like giving a stranger your house keys and alarm code and then filing charges when they “break and enter.” A certain amount of personal responsibility should be expected.

    I get your point though, that TECHNICALLY it can pass as fraud.

  • This is how I would do it if I had kids. I think Apple even has a system where you can set up an account for a kid and then re-fill it with an allowance on a monthly or weekly basis. That way it’s completely up to the kid how they spend it. They’ll learn quickly what they’re being charged for and if it’s worth it or not, and if they buy something they didn’t mean to it’ll be a lesson for them that doesn’t cost you thousands of dollars.

  • Okay, so you’re telling me that if I decided to give you a gift and emailed you my credit information so that you could buy something for yourself, you wouldn’t do it?