My parents only got smartphones in the last few years, long after I had graduated from childhood into the world of adulthood. Seeing how difficult they find it to navigate anything on these devices, I find it hard to imagine what it would be like to have parents who know more about technology than you, as is the case for plenty of kids growing up now.
There’s no way I could have gotten a hold of my parent’s finances when I was a child, at least not in the way that 9-year-old Susan did in October. Susan’s father realised his daughter had not only guessed the password to his PayPal account while he was asleep, but booked herself a trip for one all the way from England to Paris.
Ian Wilson, 53, lives in Immingham, Lincolnshire. A welding inspector by trade, he lives with his partner Tracey, as well as his three children. He was asleep when his youngest child Susan snuck off with his phone one evening, an event he didn’t come to realise until three days later on October 27. Rather than take their usual family holiday to Skegness, she booked a trip to Disneyland Paris.
Ian eventually discovered that £1,005.92 had disappeared from his account and contacted PayPal to find out what was going on, but they told him the payments were made from his phone and they did not consider it fraud.
“That’s when I went through my phone history and found all these websites in my internet history,” Ian said, “I asked Susan and she said it was her.”
It turns out the nine-year-old had spent £400 on flights and a hotel gift card, £214.08 on a VIP trip up the Eiffel Tower and £381.84 on theme park tickets and the Disneyland Express train due to leave the following day.
“She was absolutely brokenhearted and very remorseful. She had no idea what she was doing, I could not even punish her for it,” Ian said. Susan has claimed that she has no idea how she managed to book the trip and simply likes playing on her father’s phone. According to her, she does not even know what the Eiffel Tower is.
Mr Wilson tried to get his money refunded, but was initially rejected as technically no fraud had been committed. But in the end, he lucked out. PayPal eventually refunded the money to an “elated” Ian, who was told they called incidents like this “friendly fraud”, which happens more than you might think.
Now Mr Wilson is urging other parents to ensure their children do not have access to their internet devices, suggesting to “have a pin on your phone. I didn’t because I’ve never needed one but I do now”.
Now, the real question here is how much Susan knew about what she was doing. She either stumbled across something by accident or she is a master manipulator in the making.