World

Boy spends $31,000 for leukaemia treatment on online games

BEIJING A boy from Guangzhou suffering from leukaemia squandered nearly the entire remaining sum of money set aside for his medical treatment by his mother - 150,000 yuan (S$31,000) - on online games.

Tao Tao, 10, was diagnosed with leukaemia in May last year. His parents, both farmers, have since spent over 500,000 yuan on his treatment at a Beijing hospital. They had borrowed money from relatives and appealed for help from charity groups, the Beijing Evening News reported on Monday.

On Jan 23, his mother, identified only as Ms Lai, was shocked to find that her account was left with only some 9,000 yuan when she was quite sure she should have more than 30,000 yuan.

Ms Lai discovered that in January alone, there were at least six instances of money being withdrawn and the amounts were 8,000 yuan each time.

She decided to make a police report, and the police found out that the money had been transferred to her son's WeChat account.

It turned out that Tao Tao did not know online transactions involve real money and had learnt to transfer "amounts" from his mother's account to his mobile phone account to top up "amounts" for his online games. The "amounts" were paid to several tech companies.

Another large portion of the "amount" was used to pay for online subscriptions, as he had no idea what pressing the icon "confirm" really meant.

Fortunately, Ms Lai has been able to recover some of the money from several individuals and companies after they heard about their predicament.

Tencent, which developed WeChat, has told Ms Lai that it will return the 50,000 yuan that Tao Tao had transferred to it over the past few months. In total, Ms Lai has recovered two-thirds of the 150,000 yuan. She said: "I am so grateful to them, I am deeply touched."

"It is all my fault. I hope society will give the ignorant child another chance," she added.

WORLD