Lieff Cabraser is investigating claims that Google engages in deceptive marketing practices to sell in-App purchases to children playing games on Google phones, without requiring a PIN or password to complete the transaction. Popular games, such as Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds, are free or inexpensive to download. However, while playing these games, users may easily make in-App purchases for virtual currency or other virtual items by (1) using credit card information stored in Google Wallet from previous transactions, (2) without entering a PIN number or password.
One parent summarized the steps their child made to purchase $100.00 worth of virtual acorns without the parent’s knowledge:
“I was shocked at how they are using these games to prey on children and their unsuspecting parents. The game is called Bug Village and apparently they use “acorns” as currency in the game. When you click on the little acorn bar, a box pops up with pictures of acorns with the quantities underneath. In tiny print on the bottom of the box, it tells you that you will be charged real money for this purchase. Obviously most kids either can’t read at all or wouldn’t bother to read any fine print. All he had to do was click on the box with the biggest number of acorns and the money came directly out of my account due to the fact the Android market is linked to my Google checkout, which has my information already stored in it. … These apps do not require any sort of confirmation password or anything to yank the money from your account. Anyone who has your phone could run up hundreds of dollars in a matter of seconds.”