Express news service

KOCHI: In a case that could be a warning to all parents, a woman from Ernakulam lost Rs 2.93 lakh after her 14-year-old son used his cell phone to play an online game, Garena Free Fire , which became popular after the Central government banned PUBG.

The Aluva-based woman believed the money had been embezzled in a cyber fraud, but a police investigation shed light on the real incident. During the investigation by Ernakulam Rural District Police Chief K Karthick, which began as a result of his complaint, it was discovered that the boy had spent the large sum on 225 transactions involving Rs 50 to Rs 5,000.

He used all the money to buy virtual weapons, ammo, and player upgrades in the online game. “The mother learned of suspicious transactions on her bank account. After that, she approached the bank and took the transaction record. She then learned that the money had been transferred to the Paytm wallet without her knowledge. On this basis, she filed a complaint with the rural police. The cyber team’s investigation revealed that the money had been transferred to the Paytm wallet for use in the Free Fire game. The boy admitted that he used the money to buy virtual diamonds to improve the guns and players in the game, ”said a police officer.

The boy has spent the money since lockdown in the state began. “The mother felt that the boy, who is studying in grade 9, was using the phone to take online lessons. Although he is addicted to games, she never thought that her son would use the money to play games, ”the officer said.

Meanwhile, the police who recorded the case are in a catch-22 situation. While the mother intends to withdraw the complaint to the police after identifying the person responsible for all of the transactions, the police are unsure whether they should pursue the case. They are likely to drop the case, officers said.

With the increase in such cases statewide, police have warned parents to be more careful when handing their cell phones to their children.

“Parents need to monitor whether children are accessing bank account credentials and passwords. Parents should never allow students to link bank accounts to the apps they use and save passwords on phones. Creating a parental control email on the phone would prevent such instances, ”Karthick said.


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