The mother of a 12-year-old FarmVille addicts has come out to highlight the risk of playing online games on Facebook after the son amassed $1400 in fees in the game FarmVille. While some of the fees came from the kid’s savings account, the mother had to cover close to $1,000 of the fees. Since amassing the fees, Facebook has disabled the kid’s account, as he’s not old enough to use the site.
The only way the mother could get her money back according to her bank, HSBC, was “if she reported her son to the police and obtained a crime number.” In contrast to online gambling sites that raise “alarm bells”, purchasing Facebook credits do not currently alert credit card companies as suspicious transactions.
While the Guardian has an inaccurate understanding of last year’s ScamVille criticisms, which have resulted in at least one lawsuit, the article highlights what appears to be a growing addiction problem among a small segment of the population. In order for the social gaming companies to generate any sort of substantial profit, they need to entice users to purchase virtual goods.
Ironically the kid had not used his phone to purchase the credits as his brother had lost all credit after buying ringtones years earlier.