Shock after girl spends parents' $160,000 house deposit on in-app purchases

Picture: Getty Images
Picture: Getty Images 

Think your child's screen time is an issue?

Spare a thought for a dad in South Korea, whose daughter racked up an eye-watering $160,000 bill for in-app purchases – in just nine days.

The family discovered the shocking bill after noticing USD$115,000 (AUD$160,000) was missing from their bank account, according to Korea Times, who reported they had planned to use the money for a house deposit.

However, thanks to their 11-year-old, the money had instead been used to purchase gifts for fellow users of the live stream app Hakuna Live between August 3-12.

The gifts, known as 'diamonds' were paid for via a mobile payment system on her mum's smartphone.

"My wife always leaves her phone unlocked since she is visually impaired and suffers from brain damage," Korea Times quoted the dad in an interview with radio station CBS.

Trying to regain some of the funds through the good faith of other users, he contacted the 35 who had been gifted the diamonds to ask for a refund. While some had agreed, more than $55,800 was still missing.

According to Korea Times, it's an increasingly common issue for parents during the pandemic, as children spend more time at home.

The publication said close to 1,600 reports had been filed between January-September by South Korean parents citing unauthorised payments, which can be difficult to recover under local laws.


It was better news for the parents of a 12-year-old girl from Canada this week, who spent more than $12,000 on 'coins' used to buy followers on the user generated social media app TikTok.

After receiving their MasterCard bill and contacting TikTok and Apple (the purchases were made through the App Store), TikTok has agreed to work with the family to refund the purchase, which technically should not have been available for those aged under 18, according to CTV News Vancouver.

In Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recommends setting restrictions such as passcodes, fingerprint lock or face recognition authorisation, as well as parental control apps to prevent children from making unauthorised in-app purchases.

These can often happen if parents are unaware that additional purchases can be made for 15 to 30 minutes without authentication following a purchase from an online store.

In-app purchases can also often be manually disabled.