KOCHI: In a case that could be a warning to all parents, a woman in Ernakulam lost Rs 2.93 lakh after her 14-year-old son used her mobile phone to play an online game, Garena Free Fire, which became popular after the Central government banned PUBG.
The woman based in Aluva thought that the money was siphoned off in a cyber fraud, but an investigation carried out by the police brought the real incident to light. During the investigation led by Ernakulam Rural district police chief K Karthick, which began following her complaint, it was found out that the boy spent the large sum in 225 transactions involving Rs 50 to Rs 5,000.
He used the whole money for purchasing virtual weapons, ammunition and player upgrades in the online game. “The mother came to know about suspicious transactions in her bank account. Following that, she approached the bank and took the transaction statement. She then learnt that the money was transferred to the Paytm wallet without her knowledge. Based on that, she filed a complaint with the rural police. The investigation carried out by the cyber team found that the money was transferred to the Paytm wallet for use in the Free Fire game. The boy admitted that he had used the money to buy virtual diamonds and thus upgrade the weapons and players in the game,” a police officer said.
The boy has spent the amount since the start of the lockdown in the state. “The mother was under the impression that the boy, who is studying in Class 9, was using the phone to attend online classes. Though he was addicted to games, she never thought that her son would use money for playing games,” said the officer.
Meanwhile, the police who registered the case are in a catch-22 situation. While the mother intends to withdraw the police complaint after identifying the person responsible for the entire transactions, the police do not know whether to proceed with the case. They are likely to drop the case, officers said.
With such cases increasing across the state, the police have warned parents to be more careful while handing over their mobile phones to their children.
“Parents should monitor whether the kids are accessing the user IDs and passwords of bank accounts. Parents should never allow students to link bank accounts to the applications the children use and save passwords on the phones. Creating a parental control email on the phone would help avoid such cases,” said Karthick.