20th Nov, 2019

Shock for Redditch couple as grandson, age 10, runs up a £400 bill

A SHOCKED couple are urging others to beware – after their 10-year-old grandson downloaded nearly £400 in computer game add-ons on Christmas Day without their knowledge.

Rob and Sylvia Boyden have resigned themselves to never seeing their money again but are desperate to highlight the danger to other Redditch families.

“Our grandson clicked on seven different transactions in the space of just 25 minutes – it’s as simple as that – and it could happen to anyone,” said Robert.

The Matchborough couple bought the console 12 months ago and like many adults, used a fake birth date so their grandson could start playing games on it.

They asked their 19-year-old grand daughter to set everything up but she didn’t realise parental controls had to be put on.

“I said to her to use my details to get him online. What we didn’t realise was that the system would keep those details and they would stay on there,” said Robert.

His grandson was playing ‘Fortnite’ a free to download game for which players can then buy ‘V-Bucks’ – and that’s when the bill started to build.

“At about 11pm on Christmas night my daughter called me,” said Rob.

“They had been with us during the day and then had gone home and the lad decided he wanted to play with his PS4.

“She went up to make sure he was ready for bed, looked at what he was doing, saw he had an enormous amount of ‘V-Bucks’ in his account and realised what had happened.

“She then phoned me to pre-warn me.”

Minutes later his bank sent him a text telling him his account had been suspended due to suspicious activity.

“I contacted Sony but as far as they are concerned they have just washed their hands of it. I also emailed Epic Games, makers of Fortnite, but have received no reply,” said Rob.

“It’s a lesson hard learned, but very much learned, and I’d hate to think of anyone else facing the same issue we had to.

“The thing with these games is that they keep getting pop-ups on the screen encouraging them to spend money. Then they get sucked in.”

A further consequence is that, because of the fake birth date, the grandson’s account has been suspended by Sony.

A spokesperson for Sony said: “If customers would like advice on how best to protect themselves and their accounts – and we strongly recommend they do so – they can visit uk.playstation.com/support or www.getsafeonline.org/protecting-yourself.”

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