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Policeman shops own son over shock £3,700 iPad game bill

A policeman has shopped his teenage son in protest against Apple after the lad ran up a shock £3,700 bill playing games on his iPad.

You're nicked, son. A Somerset policeman has shopped his teenage son for fraud in protest against Apple, after the young'un ran up a shock £3,700 bill playing games on his iPad.

The Daily Mail reports that PC Doug Crossan's 13-year-old son made in-app purchases across a variety of games including Plants vs Zombies and NOVA 3, believing them to be free.

Crossan had registered his credit card with iTunes to buy music, not realising that it could be used to make purchases in games too. Junior quickly racked up £3,700 on more than 300 purchases -- including one purchase of a chest of coins that cost an eye-watering £77.98.

Crossan demanded a refund from Apple, but the California company refuses, saying it's a parent's responsibility to supervise iPad-wielding ankle-biters. Apple also points out there are already safeguards in place to prevent this kind of thing: just this weekend, Apple added a warning to the iTunes store for apps that contain potential purchases, and it's in tiny grey writing on a grey background -- what could be more useful?

And iTunes requires a password with new purchases, although once you've typed it in any further purchases within a set time don't require the password.

'Ello 'ello 'ello, app's all this then? 

In-app purchases in freemium games are where many developers make their money. The game itself is free, but by spending extra within the game you can upgrade with extras such as power-ups or new levels.

Doug Crossan believes this constitutes fraud, but in order to pursue that line of argument he's had to report the purchases as fraudulent -- and report his little'un in the process, although the lad hasn't been arrested.

Don't give up, Doug: Apple recently refunded a family that splurged £1,700 on Zombies vs Ninjas, and has agreed to return £66 million to disgruntled parents in the US.

Parental (lack of) control 

The moral of the story is: don't let your kids near your gadgets. Even if they don't run up a thumping great credit card bill they might get jam on it or something. If you have to let kids have phones and tablets, or they just won't stop greeting until they get a go on yours, then don't tell them your iTunes password.

The real solution would be if Apple finally added user accounts to the iPad. Windows Phone has a kids corner so kids can play with Windows devices safely, while the Google Nexus 10 tablet brings user accounts to Android so different people can use it without messing up other people's settings, accessing their data, or, yes, spending their money.

Have you ever accidentally run up a huge bill? Should Apple do more to protect kids, or is it a parent's responsibility? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page -- don't worry, every comment is free.