A mother was shocked to discover that her 11-year-old son had not only stolen $4,000 of her hard-earned cash within three months, but he had also spent it all on mobile games and treating his friends to a lavish meal.
The 43-year-old woman named Linda told Shin Min Daily News that she found it odd when she realised that her younger son had not been asking for his allowance for some time.
With her suspicions aroused, she checked his wallet on Sept 12 and was shocked to discover $58 inside.
Under “intense interrogation”, the boy finally confessed that he had taken the money from her wallet. He told her that he splurged the money on his friends as well as to buy online gift cards to top up his mobile gaming credits.
After finding out the truth from her son, Linda was in disbelief as her son does not even have his own mobile phone. However, he is allowed to use his cousin’s phone for up to two hours each day after he is done with his homework.
Linda, who owns a hair salon, said the primary school pupil got hooked on mobile games despite the upcoming PSLE exams and suspects that he may have been influenced by his friends.
“I checked the transactions and found out that at the beginning, he reloaded credits in the tens of dollars, but it slowly increased to more than $100. Then on a particular day, the amount was more than $600,” said Linda.
From July to September, her son had spent more than $3,000 in total on gaming, while $500 was splurged on a meal with his friends.
Equivalent To Household Expenditure For Up To Two Months
Image courtesy: Shin Min Daily News
Linda added that with the pandemic, the family’s monthly income has been slashed by up to half, and the money that her son frittered away could have been used to foot their household expenses for up to two months.
She shared how she’d usually transfer the day’s earnings from the hair salon straight into her wallet, and did not notice anything amiss as the days went by.
Linda reflected that she will treat the incident as a painful lesson, and hopes her experience will serve as a warning to other parents as well to the dangers of gaming addiction.
Image courtesy: File Photo
“I neglected my son before as I was busy, but now when I get home from work I’ll make sure to sit beside him to do his revisions,” said Linda.
She feels, however, that convenience stores can do more to prevent such incidents from happening.
Linda told the Chinese evening daily that after she discovered what her son had done, her nephew went to the convenience store to enquire about the cards that the boy had bought.
A store employee said they had expressed concern that the boy could be a victim of a scam, but he replied that he was buying the cards for his parents.
However, Linda said that given her son’s young age, store employees who witness a primary school student purchasing up to $400 worth of gift cards should question them and inform their parents.
She also doesn’t think that those who are underage should be allowed to make such top-ups freely within the gaming applications.
“Children should be stopped from buying such cards or there should be a limit to the amount that they can buy,” said Linda. She noted that countries such as Japan and China have already started to impose restrictions on kids’ gaming and hopes Singapore can look into following suit.
Many convenience store employees Shin Min spoke to said that they work closely with the police to prevent instances of online gift card scams and would usually intervene if they notice anything amiss.
Staff would usually check with customers who buy these cards if they are for their own use, and warn them against falling prey to such scams. The police would also conduct random checks from time to time.
One employee that the Chinese evening daily spoke to said that many of those who purchase such cards are primary and secondary school students. However, as most of them are accompanied by their parents, staff would usually not probe further.
This article was first published on AsiaOne and republished on theAsianparent with permission.
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