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Dad Insists Teen Son Reimburse Him For Gifts He Purchased For ‘Online Girlfriend’ In Video Game

A boy taking money out of a wallet.
sdart/Getty Images

As children age, it becomes increasingly important for parents to teach them the importance of financial responsibility.

Sooner or later, they’re going to need to start using their own money to buy certain things, effectively requiring them to make money.

Of course, some parents are still more than happy to help their children when they are in a financial bind.

Others, not so much.

The teenage son of Redditor Educational-Error705 was surprised by the large charges of a recent credit card bill.

Charges the Original poster (OP)’s son was unable to pay.

While the OP was willing to bail his son out, he would only do so on one condition.

A condition the OP’s son was not at all pleased to oblige.

Wondering if he was being overly harsh, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where he asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for telling my son to pay back the money he spent on his online girlfriend?”

The OP explained how he decided to handle his son’s recent shopping spree:

“I (45 M[ale]) have a son(16 M) that loves to play video games.”

“I purchased him a Playstation 5 for his birthday last year, and he plays online with friends.”

“He’s been telling me that he has been chatting online with a girl (15 F[emale]) and they have slowly started dating.”

“They don’t talk over the microphone as hers broke, and he has no idea what she looks like.”

“I told him to be careful about what he sends her and not to give her any personal information.”

“My son has his own credit card with a limit on it, and I told him to not go over the limit and only use it for emergencies.”

“I got the credit card bill for this month and there were charges repeatedly for the game he plays in charges of $50-100.”

“I was furious as he gets gift cards for the games for his birthday and Christmas.”

“I approached him with the bill and asked him what the charges were.”

“He told me that his girlfriend wanted new stuff for the game and would break up with him if he didn’t purchase them.”

“I told him that I would pay the charges and that he would have to pay me back the money.”

“I told him that there were many jobs that would hire him.”

“He got angry with me that he wouldn’t have time to work as he plays sports and school.”

‘I told him that if I was able to balance working and school, he would have no problem doing it.”

“I took his credit card away.”

“He’s not speaking to me now, only if it’s about being picked up or needing a ride to see his friends.”

“He’s mad that I’m making him pay the money back and get a job.”

“AITA for telling my son to pay back the money he spent on his online girlfriend?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

The Reddit community was generally in agreement that the OP was not the a**hole for making his son reimburse him for his online payments.

If anything, almost everyone thought the OP was being very lenient.

Many urged the OP to take further precautions to stop him from communicating with his online girlfriend any further, as it seemed very clear that he was being scammed.

“Your son was scammed.”

“NTA.”- mdthomas

“That’s not a girlfriend and probably not even a girl.”

“Romance scammer.”


“You really need to go farther, but not in punishing.”

“What you need to do is teach him about romance scammers, and since you didn’t I’m assuming you yourself don’t know all that much about them.”

“This is exactly what they do: get people to buy gift cards, etc.”- He_Who_Is_Person


“He knew it was for emergencies only – a game is not an emergency.”

“You warned him to be careful with her, and he ignored that.”

“I think it’s totally fair to expect him to pay back those charges.”

“He’s sixteen, old enough to learn the value of work and money.”

“Also, that 15F girlfriend is totally some dude catfishing him – no video chats, no talking over the mic, he’s being scammed.”- Jerseygirl2468


“Well, then no you’re not an AH.”

“But I am a bit concerned that you are as a parent are not concerned that you are not more concerned about your son being catfished, not confident in this decision.”- jrm1102


“You’ve tried discussing the dangers of being scammed/catfished.”

“Reopen that discussion; this is definitely a teachable moment.”

“However, he needs an actual consequence to hit the point home, and I agree that holding him liable for the money he elected to give this stranger is a smart choice.”

“This also reinforces that this CC is to be used for emergencies only, in case he was ever feeling froggy in the future.”- prismaticintellect


“I’ll say NTA but I think your focus should be on the fact that your son is being extorted and possibly catfished.”

“You need to discipline him, yeah, but don’t forget your other duties as a parent.”

‘He needs your guidance now to get out of this situation, and since it’s his first ‘gf’ he will also need empathy and understanding on your behalf to help him navigate the situation.”

“Even if she is real, threatening to break up with him if he doesn’t buy her sh*t is toxic, and he needs to leave her.”- doflamingoenjoyer1


“I did something similar when I was his age (not scammed — I just used parent’s CC to play a bunch of surprisingly expensive online games without their permission).”

‘I did chores all summer to pay them back.”

“And man did I learn that lesson.”

“My parents weren’t great, but they nailed that one.”- bewbies-


“Your son fell for the oldest scam in the book when it comes to online gaming, but as he’s only 16 and a kid….well, lesson learned.”

“Stick to your guns with this.”

“He messed up and needs to pay you the money back that he blew on a scammer.”- Caspian4136


“Can you please stop calling her an ‘online girlfriend’ and start referring her to what she is, but a scam artist … likely some 12-yo boy or someone in another country.”

“More likely the first, b/c let’s get real.”- Away_Refuse8493

“NTA ‘My mic is broken’ is the key line for scammers, and the second they realize they are getting money out of him, it only gets worse, but the icing on the cake is that your child thinks it’s ok to spend more money on a girl if she’s threatening to break up with him.”

“So much advice to give to him here!”- Supernova-Max


“Did he think it’s acceptable to make you pay for his gifts to his ‘girlfriend’?”

“That said, you are the AH for allowing your 16-year-old online unsupervised and access to a credit card without teaching him about online scams.”

“His ’15F’ girlfriend is very likely neither, and he’s old enough he should’ve long ago been taught to see that, and especially not to send multiple $50-100 gift cards to his ‘girlfriend’ Boris.”- Abstruse

“NTA, and you were right to take away the credit card.”

“It looks like he needs to learn about financial abuse because he’s young and gullible.”

“Maybe broach the subject by saying something like, ‘Hey, son, you know what kind of woman demands money for her company’.”- Specific_Yogurt2217


“But your son needs some parenting on what a girlfriend is (and isn’t).”

“If he thinks that it’s someone you never talk to and buy stuff for, this won’t be the last time he gets taken advantage of.”

“Imagine what he’ll spend on someone who actually sleeps with him.”- Mediocre_Ask5220


“If he were an adult living on his own and got scammed like this, he might end up owing the card company way more.”

“Paying for it is a lesson on his mistake.”- hellcoach


“But why would you give a 16-year-old a credit card -there are adults out there that can’t manage that type of discipline.”- BiggestPIA

However, a few couldn’t understand why the OP didn’t sit his son down and make it clearer to him that he was being scammed so that he might avoid similar situations in the future.


“Have you spoken to your son about how his ‘girlfriend’ is almost certainly not a 15-year-old girl?”-Easthampster

It does, indeed, seem that the OP’s son repaying the money he spent could likely be the very least of his problems.

Having never seen or spoken to this “girlfriend,” the evidence suggests that this is an online scammer after money and nothing else, and staying in contact with them could put them in even more serious danger.

Something the OP will hopefully get in his son’s head before it’s too late.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.