A mother in Wilton, Connecticut is scrambling to pay off $16,000 in debt after his six-year-old son spent massive amounts of real money on the iPad game, Sonic Forces.

MicrotransactionsCameron Spencer / Getty Images

“It’s like my 6-year-old was doing lines of cocaine — and doing bigger and bigger hits,” Jessica Johnson told the New York Post regarding her son, George.

Johnson has been unsuccessful in getting a refund from Apple for the unbelievable charges, spent on in-game microtransactions. 

“[Apple] said, ‘Tough.’ They told me that, because I didn’t call within 60 days of the charges, that they can’t do anything,” said Jessica. “The reason I didn’t call within 60 days is because Chase told me it was likely fraud — that PayPal and Apple.com are top fraud charges,” she explained.

“These games are designed to be completely predatory and get kids to buy things, What grown-up would spend $100 on a chest of virtual gold coins?" she asked rhetorically.

The mother says George was too young to understand that he was spending real money on the video game.

“My son didn’t understand that the money was real. How could he? He’s playing a cartoon game in a world that he knows is not real. Why would the money be real to him? That would require a big cognitive leap.”

Numerous studies have been conducted to determine the links between microtransactions, loot boxes, and gambling addiction in video games, many of which are marketed towards children.

[Via]