Mom says she’s struggling after son spends $6,000 on Google Play

Her son, who is nonverbal and has autism, spent nearly $6,000 on Google Play, she says.
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 6:58 AM CDT
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ELYRIA, Ohio (WOIO/Gray News) - An Ohio mom is trying to make ends meet after her son with special needs spent thousands of dollars online, WOIO reports.

“I was like ‘Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God,’ but I kind of just had faith that it would all work out,” Emily Chonko said.

When Chonko checked her bank account last month and saw nearly $6,000 worth of charges, she said she nearly passed out.

“When I first seen it, like my whole stomach just fell,” she said. “I cried. I just felt like a big baby.”

Chonko quickly discovered her 10-year-old son Julian was behind the long list of charges from Google Play.

“I told them that my son was nonverbal. He’s autistic, that he didn’t understand what he was doing. He was just basically living his best life and getting all the coins for his game and didn’t really understand the concept of money and how it works,” Chonko said.

She immediately started a dispute with KeyBank and Google.

Chonko said she had two-step verification set up on her phone but somehow her son figured out her password and was able to make the purchases.

“The bank never flagged it. They never notified me,” she said.

Chonko is raising 8-year-old Gabriella and 10-year-old Julian on her own. Her children’s father died from diabetes complications earlier this year.

“We’ve been going through a lot lately,” Chonko said. “We’re going to get through it. It’s not a bad life, just a small bad moment so we’re trying to stay positive.”

She said Google denied her claim almost right away. KeyBank launched an investigation, and at first, they credited her the money. But she received a letter from KeyBank on Monday that made her heart sink.

“They just told me yesterday in the mail that they took back the credit and that they weren’t going to go forward with the claim, that they denied it,” she said.

KeyBank took back all of the money they had credited her. Chonko said she needs that money to take care of her family.

“I was using it to save up for a bigger place for us because where we’re at is just really small. It’s a two-bedroom, and they’re still sharing a room, and she wants her own room. They’re just getting older and everything with inflation right now and living paycheck to paycheck,” she said.

Chonko said she is hoping KeyBank and Google will reconsider. In the meantime, she’s removed her bank cards from her phone and started a fundraising page to help get her life back on track.

Google and KeyBank did not respond to a request for comment.