Boy spends $31k of leukaemia treatment funds on online games

BEIJING • A boy from Guangzhou suffering from leukaemia squandered 150,000 yuan (S$31,000), set aside for his medical treatment by his mother, on online games.

Ten-year-old Tao Tao was diagnosed with leukaemia last May. His parents, both farmers, have spent more than 500,000 yuan on his treatment at a Beijing hospital, with money from relatives and charity groups, the Beijing Evening News reported on Monday.

Last Tuesday, as his mother, Ms Lai, was settling payment at the hospital, she was shocked to find her account had only some 9,000 yuan. She immediately checked her bank records and found that in January alone, there were at least six instances of money being withdrawn at 8,000 yuan each time. She then made a police report.

After investigating, police discovered that the money had been transferred to a WeChat account of someone named "King of Glory", who turned out to be her son. King Of Glory is the name of a popular online game in China.

Tao Tao and his mother live in a 10 sq m rented apartment in a Beijing hutong. The family cannot afford for him to stay in hospital.

The boy said he has seen his mum use her WeChat account to perform transactions, but he did not know that online transactions involve real money. He learnt to transfer sums from his mother's account to his own mobile phone account to top up payments for his online games. The payments were made to several tech companies.

A large sum of money went towards online subscriptions, as he had no idea what pressing the icon "confirm" on his cellphone meant.

Fortunately, Ms Lai was able to recover some of the money from several individuals and companies which heard about the family's predicament.

Tencent, the company which developed the WeChat software, told Ms Lai it will return the 50,000 yuan which Tao Tao had transferred to the company over the past few months.

"I am so grateful to them, I am deeply touched," Ms Lai told Beijing Evening News, adding that she has recovered about two-thirds of the estimated 150,000 yuan her son spent.

Ms Lai said she bears the responsibility for not educating her son well. "It's all my fault, I hope society will give this ignorant child another chance," she said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 31, 2018, with the headline Boy spends $31k of leukaemia treatment funds on online games. Subscribe