Kids On YouTube Keep Making Videos About Scamming Fortnite V-Bucks From Their Parents

YouTuber Dom Tracy showing his father the Fortnite V-bucks he purchased on his PayPal. Viewed over 350,000 times.Image: Dom Tracy

"Today's video is very funny, guys," says Tommy Ladd, 13, in a recent YouTube video. "I am on Fortnite Battle Royale right now, guys, and what I'm going to be doing is buying this massive bundle of 10,000 V-bucks," the virtual in-game currency in Fortnite. He pauses for effect and laughs before adding, " - and I'm going to be doing it on my dad's PayPal."

Ladd makes the $US100 ($132) purchase and peruses the Fortnite store for skins and add-ons. At this point, he says, his dad should have received a push notification on his smartphone for the PayPal purchase. Tommy's father, Rob Ladd, eventually enters his son's room holding his phone. Rob sternly asks his son what the charge is for.

"That's a hell of a lot of money," says the dad. "What were you thinking?" Tommy responds: "It wasn't me!" Rob mimes confiscating his son's console before Tommy says, again laughing, "It's a prank!"

The video was a hit for Tommy's channel, racking up 14,000 views.

Whenever I mention Fortnite to a parent whose kids game, one of the first things they bring up is how much money their child spends on Fortnite's in-game purchases.

Without getting scientific, the millions of kids who play this game aren't all buying fresh skins and emotes on their own dime. A parent might enter their PayPal information into their kid's Fortnite accounts and forget it's saved. And anyway, the kids are buying "V-bucks," not spending "cash," which could feel less material. A cool new outfit in the game can cost 1,500 V-bucks, or about $US15 ($20).

Players want a lot of stuff, so sometimes bills for V-bucks verge on hundreds of dollars.

Parents have taken to the internet to advise each other on how to avoid "an unexpected bill" from Fortnite publisher Epic Games.

Fortnite's V-bucks have spurred uncomfortable confrontations between parents and children over money. And for some reason, it's a confrontation that child YouTubers are replicating, sometimes for millions of clicks, for their fans. Witnessing this cringe-inducing genre of video grow over the last few months, I wonder whether viewers get an America's Funniest Home Videos-type pleasure out of it.

However, the these videos' self-conscious branding and the YouTubers' smug looks makes watching these parent-pranking Fortnite videos a complicated and very 2018 theatrical experience. Sometimes these videos are real. And sometimes they're a joke everyone's in on.

After stumbling upon Tommy Ladd's video, titled "Kid Spends $US100 ($132) on VBucks with Dad's CREDIT CARD (Fortnite)," I went looking for other videos of its type. There are dozens. In nearly all of them, the young YouTubers refer to themselves as "kid," not "I," showing an awareness of the viral potential of a parent-kid V-buck dynamic.

YouTuber Morgz, with a Jake Paul-esque side-swipe of blonde hair, made a video in March titled "Kid Spends $US500 ($661) on FORTNITE with Mum's Credit Card... [MUST WATCH]." In it, he says he's going to prank his mum and "spend loads of money on Fortnite, buy all the items I can with my mum's credit card and, hopefully, watch her freak out. This is gonna be hilarious."

Later on, when Morgz' mum enters his room in a fury, she demands the money back. "Do you think this is funny?" she asks. "Yeah," he nods. Smash that "Subscribe" button. The video has 9 million views.

One of the biggest parent-pranking Fortnite YouTubers is Dom Tracy, a young, often shirtless teen in braces. Over the past few months he's made at least five videos of himself apparently purchasing Fortnite's in-game currency with family members' credit cards, all with tens of thousands of views.

They follow a formula. First, he brags about what he's going to do: spend x money with y authority figure's card in exchange for sweet skins and lots of lols. After discovering his naughty Fortnite purchases, Tracy's parents will enter his room, yell and slam the door. Or they might call him into another room for a stern conversation, all taped on camera by a mysterious cameraman.

In one, his dad calls a $US100 ($132) V-bucks purchase "bullshit," throws something at Tracy and says, "Funny joke? I don't even have money for health insurance and you're buying stuff." It's actually pretty depressing, if real. (Tracy did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)

Without direct input from these YouTubers, it's hard to say whether the videos are staged. Over Skype, Tommy Ladd and his father - the only pair of seven I contacted who would agree to an interview - acknowledged that they'd set up their confrontation. Tommy admires behemoth YouTubers like KSI and Logan Paul and wants to get big on the video platform.

After seeing these Fortnite prank videos all over YouTube, he "hopped in on the bandwagon." Tommy's dad encourages his YouTube ambitions, he told me.

"It sounded like a bit of fun," said the elder Ladd. "I tend to let Tommy do his own creative thing. I thought was entertainment, good and fun. Quite funny, really."

Despite how it looks, Tommy said he's never actually used his parents' PayPal account. He has his own banking card, which his parents refresh with birthday and pocket money every now and then.

When I asked Tommy how he felt about YouTubers whose Fortnite prank videos might not be staged, the 13-year-old said, "If he's actually spending money and it's affecting his dad, it's not really funny at the end of the day."


Comments

    Eh... looks like it is all staged for the benefit of views. Nothing to see here.

    What a depressing state of affairs.

    And on that day Vaegrand's son became capable of Domino cosplay. I kid, but I would most likely be breaking a wooden spoon over someone's butt regardless of how old they are.

    Clearly the kid gets his smarts from somewhere lol. Emulating other youtube douchebags isn't the least bit creative 'Dad'. This bullshit just drowns out the decent content on the platform.

    And this is what passes for entertainment in 2018...

    Remember parents, you can always beat your kids. They're small, and can't run very fast.

      Why beat your kid when you can curb that Fortnite addiction with an internet block, make your own clickbait "parent blocks fortnite reaction vid! lol"

        You won’t even need to stage the reaction of the kid freaking out, either.

    like Offspring once said, "So, if you don't rate, then over compensate"...with shitty staged click bait videos.

    The video titles and title images just scream "click me! click me!" lol

    Idiot kid is idiot. Idiot parent is older idiot. Nothing to see here, stop giving them a platform, Kotaku. Yes I'm aware I just bought into this non event by commenting and I'm also an idiot.

    Youtube really is becoming cancerous, huh?

      Becoming? Its been cancerous for at least 5 years, most likely more.

      You tube is definitely the dumbest in terms of comments and content.

    And here you are giving them more airtime..well done.

    Don't we hate microtransactions? Or is or just that fortnight is popular so it gets a free pass.

      We hate micro transactions in a game we paid for. Free game it’s all good

        That's a very good point. I keep forgetting that about fortnight as opposed to overwatch.

    Surely there are better things to play or watch than this garbage??

    Do not want to live on this planet n’more

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