$800 Minecraft Bill Leads to Felony Filing Against Ten-Year-Old

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$800 Minecraft Bill Leads to Felony Filing Against Ten-Year-Old

Nebraska

A ten-year-old Nebraska lad is facing a felony theft charge after racking up an $800 Minecraft bill on his grandmother's credit card.

First things first: I have no idea how anyone could ring up $800 worth of Minecraft stuff. I don't even know if it's possible. But that's the line that police in the town of Lincoln, Nebraska are going with, and so that's how we'll roll along.

According to the police, a 74-year-old woman was contacted by her bank about suspicious activity on her credit card, which they eventually tracked down to her young, Minecraft-loving grandson, who reportedly ran up the huge bill while playing the game online. The bank told her that it would reverse the charges once she filed a police report - and so that's what she did. The police referred the case to the Lancaster County DA's office, and the boy is now facing a felony theft charge.

Kids unintentionally plowing huge charges onto their parents' credit cards is nothing new - I did it back in the early 80s - but it's unusual, and very unfortunate, that the system has this kid facing such serious trouble. Surely there must have been a way to resolve the matter without filing charges, and if not, surely any rational parent or grandparent would opt to eat the bill rather than throw their pre-teen child to the wolves of law enforcement. And yet, apparently not.

And just how does one spend $800 on Minecraft, anyway? I have no doubt that the bill is real but I suspect there's more to it than meets the eye.

Source: KLKN

Permalink

...When did Minecraft introduce the ability to spend more money than the base purchase?

How the hell does one spend $800 on Minecraft?!

I mean the game itself is only a few bucks, and it doesn't have any sort of subscription or DLC.

Did he just buy a LOT of copies or something?

seydaman:
...When did Minecraft introduce the ability to spend more money than the base purchase?

That what I was wondering too...maybe he bought Minecraft for his entire school or something? Or bought a new copy every time he logged in? I have no idea. I can't think of a way to sink that much money into Minecraft.

Did Minecraft introduce microtransactions while I wasn't looking? How is this even possible?

Maybe he was buying up Minecraft merchandise online?

My guess would be he was online and donating money to servers or something. A lot of servers have the ability to donate for ranks and privileges, etc. Even then that kinda money just on minecraft is pretty nuts but he's 10 maybe somebody told him to give a huge donation for something really cool (in a 10 year olds mind of course).

It's too vague to really tell what he spent the money on. I mean, Minecraft has a store, but it mostly just diverts you to a Thinkgeek page of the item.

Kuilui:
My guess would be he was online and donating money to servers or something. A lot of servers have the ability to donate for ranks and privileges, etc. Even then that kinda money just on minecraft is pretty nuts but he's 10 maybe somebody told him to give a huge donation for something really cool (in a 10 year olds mind of course).

Most likely. While MC itself is buy-once-and-keep many specialized private servers are apparently freemium with a heavy pay-to-win bend.

There's a lot of Minecraft paraphernalia for sale on the X-Box 360 Store. Combine with Microsoft saving credit card information with no password-protection before each use and this is what happens.

http://marketplace.xbox.com/en-US/Product/Minecraft/66acd000-77fe-1000-9115-d802584111f7

As a adult Minecraft fan that has spent some of his income on the game & some physical merchandise associated with it, it behooves me to bring up that one would need to buy nearly every bit of licensed Minecraft swag out there to wrack up that kind of bill; possible, but hard for something like that to have gone unnoticed.

Some multiplayer servers charge for use, but unless he's on an obscene number of them, I don't see how that'd do it either

This whole thing sounds immediately fishy to me

Escapist, keep us posted on this s'il vou plait

Church185:
Did Minecraft introduce microtransactions while I wasn't looking?

They did actually start selling texture packs on 360, but most the kid probably he got scammed by someone with promises of private server access (plenty of those asses around).

Wouldn't really blame granny for her actions either because old people much like children tend to just blindly follow what seemingly important people tell them to do, hopefully the parents have enough sense to provide some insight and prove the kid had no idea what he was doing.

MinionJoe:
There's a lot of Minecraft paraphernalia for sale on the X-Box 360 Store. Combine with Microsoft saving credit card information with no password-protection before each use and this is what happens.

http://marketplace.xbox.com/en-US/Product/Minecraft/66acd000-77fe-1000-9115-d802584111f7

this here.

one of the well known "features" of xbox live.

or he was just using someone as help to punch the wood...

Synthetica:
Ehm, wait what? Here in the Netherlands, you have a special institute thingie for the punishment of minors, you don't get a criminal record and you have to do community service, tops. How come that's not the case there?

you forgot that its america. it should explain a lot.

Seems like a waste of time and money bringing in charges in a case like this, better to let his family deal with the punishment rather than wasting public money and leaving a black mark on the poor kid's record. Hopefully someone in authority will see sense.

Ehm, wait what? Here in the Netherlands, you have a special institute thingie for the punishment of minors, you don't get a criminal record and you have to do community service, tops. How come that's not the case there?

Just wanted to say: Excellent picture use on this story, it gave me quite a big smile when I saw it. Better safe than sorry, Starkweather was just a kid too, best to lock him up rather than give him a stern warning and dismiss the charges.

How does a ten year old get hold of an adult's credit card/details and then use it without notice.

How does a ten year old rack up a $800 bill over a month without anyone noticing?

Wouldn't you be concerned if your ten year old was so obsessed with a game to the level that they would spend so much? Where were the adults in this entire situation and how did they let it get so far?

And lastly why the fuck would you file a police report against one of your own relatives, and a ten year old one at that? Especially in America where the police look for absolutely any excuse to put you away for good; why do you think they tell you to say nothing until your lawyer get's there?

I feel bad for the kid, yes he was stupid but he's 10! I was stupid when I was ten but thankfully I had good parents who ensured I didn't fuck up too badly. In fact I remember my brother racking up a 70 phone bill for Phantasy Star Online back when we were using dial up, and that's as far as it got because my parents were on the ball, and no they didn't notify the police; they did what any sane parent would do which was punish him and then dock his pocket money for a few months until he paid it off.

Synthetica:
Ehm, wait what? Here in the Netherlands, you have a special institute thingie for the punishment of minors, you don't get a criminal record and you have to do community service, tops. How come that's not the case there?

You forget that while Netherlands (and most of the EU), Australia and most of the western world are beyond this the Us is about 50 years behind the rest of us, still clinging onto punishment over rehabilitation or common sense. It's all about money since the jails are privately owned.

Synthetica:
Ehm, wait what? Here in the Netherlands, you have a special institute thingie for the punishment of minors, you don't get a criminal record and you have to do community service, tops. How come that's not the case there?

Note that the source article linked is just four sentences and shorter than the write up here. Thus it probably sounds more sensational than it really is.

The case was referred to juvenile court since the kid is a minor and most likely the charges will be dropped after a prosecutor reviews them. The grandma filed a police report (probably before she knew that her grandson was responsible) so the police processed the case as they would any fraud case. A prosecutor will look at the case and decide that there is nothing to prosecute there and drop the charges.

When I was 15, I managed to get hold of my dad's card and spend 250 on an adult webcam website. He went berserk at me and it took about a year until he finally stopped bringing it up, we were never well-off so it really was a massive amount, but I just didn't think at the time, blinded as I was by teenage hormones.

This kid is 10 and it's a lot more innocent, I wish my charge had been on a computer game instead of something as embarrassing as a wank-site. I can't believe the law are even getting involved in this. Ground him, take away his gaming rights for 6 months, a year even. But prosecuting? What can they do anyway against a 10 year old? Throw him in the slammer? I know it's America, but there has to be limits.

Nielas:

Synthetica:
Ehm, wait what? Here in the Netherlands, you have a special institute thingie for the punishment of minors, you don't get a criminal record and you have to do community service, tops. How come that's not the case there?

Note that the source article linked is just four sentences and shorter than the write up here. Thus it probably sounds more sensational than it really is.

The case was referred to juvenile court since the kid is a minor and most likely the charges will be dropped after a prosecutor reviews them. The grandma filed a police report (probably before she knew that her grandson was responsible) so the police processed the case as they would any fraud case. A prosecutor will look at the case and decide that there is nothing to prosecute there and drop the charges.

I'd say calling it sensational is being generous. The article says he could be charged with a felony. This headline implies he differently has been.

Well, the kid fucked up. Can't tell if it was out of obliviousness or criminal energy, but he must face the consequences of his actions either way. I guess ten years is old enough to know that money doesn't grow on trees.

RicoADF:

Synthetica:
Ehm, wait what? Here in the Netherlands, you have a special institute thingie for the punishment of minors, you don't get a criminal record and you have to do community service, tops. How come that's not the case there?

You forget that while Netherlands (and most of the EU), Australia and most of the western world are beyond this the Us is about 50 years behind the rest of us, still clinging onto punishment over rehabilitation or common sense. It's all about money since the jails are privately owned.

Well, here in Germany, minors below the age of 14 can't be held accountable for their actions. The results are entire gangs of 13 year old criminals that rob people, sell drugs, beat the crap out of both kids and adults and pretty much loot stores. Worst thing that can happen to them when they're caught is that their parents have to pick them up.

I say teach the little bastards a lesson they won't forget, otherwise they'll learn that their misbehavior has no real consequences. Punish one, teach a hundred.

This doesn't make any sense.

Minecraft only costs about $24.00 last time I checked.

Who/what the heck is he doing with that game to rack up that much cash?

As others have said, the only feasible thing I can think of is that he bought the game for his entire school or something.

An article on Escapist that took place where I live?! But nothing ever happens in Nebraska!

But really how do you spend 800 bucks on Minecraft? Maybe merchandise?

Can you imagine all of the skins he must have...?

In all seriousness, I hope this gets sorted out in a... rational manner. He's 10-year-old; I don't think he understands the severity of his spending.

Chances are the kid used the $800 to support a private server he plays on.

Minecraft is a stand-alone game. Not an MMORPG, or anything like that.. how do you pay $800 when it costs $25 at best?

This is just a case of adults not knowing enough about videogames; the bill's obviously fake, unless he bought t-shirts or something.

Besides, how do you prosecute a 10 year old? What the hell does a 10 year old have? A condom he bouhgt on a dare, some comic books, a laptop... I'm confused, I'm genuinely confused at to how America works. America is stupid.

The original article gives very little detail. Basically that he spent $800 and he was playing Minecraft. It could even be because his gramma is on an ancient dial-up line (seeing as it the backend of nowhere). Those things could get very expensive very quickly.

Kuilui:
My guess would be he was online and donating money to servers or something. A lot of servers have the ability to donate for ranks and privileges, etc. Even then that kinda money just on minecraft is pretty nuts but he's 10 maybe somebody told him to give a huge donation for something really cool (in a 10 year olds mind of course).

This is basically what I was thinking. One in particular which I'm pretty sure it is, and are renowned for allowing griefers back whenever they buy new ranks...

http://www.epicraft.com.au/ranks

Nothing to do with Mojang but a pay 2 win server aimed at children... Also "Donations" is a very loose term... Also they have multiple servers and the ranks only apply to a single server. So to unlock the full thing on each server is gunna rack you up a good $600 debt. If he got a few bans and kept "topping up" then he'd easily get to $800 quite quickly.

Also... the creative server... isn't creative unless you get the $150 one first XD

There must indeed be more than meets the eye here. If only there were a...I dunno....journalist or something writing an article that they could do some follow-up research on. Hmmm.

Did the Grandmother KNOW that she was throwing the kid to the legal wolfs?

I know many elderly people, they do not understand that things work differently today then they did 30, 40 or 50 years ago. She may have heard "reverse the charges" and not understand that her grandchild was involved/get-in-trouble. She may have thought that they would reverse the charges, she would give back the stuff (she may not understood 'digital stuff'), and then punish the child herself.

This is not being rude to the elderly, but the world has changed so much in the shortest amount of time. Just in my short 30 years, the world has changed massively.

Off-topic: Lincoln is the capitol of Nebraska. Though it may still be considered a town by some. :)

Even if you don't agree with this action, you have to admit that it'll teach him a lesson.

A good parent isn't afraid to play the bad guy in order to better their children, in my opinion of course.

Synthetica:
Ehm, wait what? Here in the Netherlands, you have a special institute thingie for the punishment of minors, you don't get a criminal record and you have to do community service, tops. How come that's not the case there?

Normally minors don't get treated this harshly, but it also isn't unheard of for minors responsible for crimes like murder to face incredibly harsh charges. The system hardly goes without criticism over here, though, and situations like this, where a ten year old who likely didn't fully understand what he was doing, only add to the controversy. Unfortunately, we're so concerned about whether or not Democrats are Communists, whether or not Republicans are racist, and whether or not Joe Biden is insane that we really don't give the matter the consideration that it deserves.

OT: They should probably look into this more. If it was an issue of someone tricking the kid into giving them money for server privileges, then they should probably consider dealing with whoever exploited the kid. Even if it was all his fault, this incident should really just be used to teach him rather than ruining his life over something he did at ten. Seriously, he's not even old enough to fully understand his own actions and they're already planning to permanently stain his record? That's arguably worse than what the kid did because, unlike him, these people are actually expected to understand the weight of their actions.

So I checked on Nebraska's laws. Looks like the range for felony theft is $500 to $1500, and is a Class IV felony, which is the lowest it gets before it hits misdemeanor and has no minimum penalty. On top of that it's going to be handed over to the juvenile courts and either plead down or the charges simply dropped.

Furthermore, I have been unable to find any substantial details or sources outside of the original piece published in the Lincoln Journal Star, as every other article about this simply links back to it, and they don't have any links or real sources posted other than police "referred" him to the Lancaster County Attorney's Office (which I can't confirm because it's past their business hours).

All things considered, this whole thing seems either fake or greatly exaggerated from what actually happened. The facts seem very fuzzy but designed to push all the buttons to manufacture outrage and generate page views.

EDIT ADD: While we're on the subject, I just want to point out to everyone that's freaking out saying minors get punished too harshly or the system is out of control. Look, everything is working the way it's supposed to, but the whole view is getting narrowed to just the juicy bits.

When charges get filed (by the police or wronged party) that's before it has shown up in a courtroom or in front of a jury or anything. The charges are what they are, and it's up to the next step of the system to determine if there's merit in the charges or if they're going to get altered to something else.

My friend Greg is a real estate attorney and he put it like this: "Sure, anyone can sue anyone for anything. What's legal and what isn't is a matter for the courts to decide; that's what they do. Someone has to take a look at these things and see if there were any laws broken or parties wronged or whatever but these guys aren't idiots. They throw out frivolous and bullshit cases and complaints everyday."

I've just never understood how so many kids tend to be this stupi. When I was 10 I didn't spent shit on games because I didn't haave any money of my own, so spending any amount seemed just plain retarded.

Synthetica:
Ehm, wait what? Here in the Netherlands, you have a special institute thingie for the punishment of minors, you don't get a criminal record and you have to do community service, tops. How come that's not the case there?

Hang on... so in the Netherlands, that one place that most people that are not from there tend to consider one of the best places to live in, along with Sweden and Canada, doesn't have those problems? That's weird...

But in all seriousness, the US has this "people in jail gives you money" kinda thing, which is ALSO not a reality in most other countries, so that kind of explains it to me, but it's still weird to have a "parent" to get his kid charged with any kind of stuff like this.

Odds are, they will put him in front of a very stern looking judge who will look down from his podium and ask him if he knows what he did. He will say yes, I accidentally spent lots of money with grammas credit card. The judge will ask him if the kid knows what he did was wrong and technically fraud/stealing/whatever. The kid will say yes sir, I'm very sorry sir. The judge will say good, I fine you $X for the court cost, case dismissed or whatever the jargon is, and everyone will go along their merry way,.

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