Why did you stop buying on eBay

On Wednesday last week, the parents apparently saw no other option. "Our son is selling his beloved hat with the original autographs of various soccer players", they wrote on the eBay classifieds sales platform and added a picture of a black and white striped hat.

The ten-year-old had "unconsciously spent over 1000 euros" on in-app purchases of a mobile game, it continues. "Now he wants and has to pay it back somehow." There are original signatures from Jogi Löw, Philipp Lahm, Oliver Bierhoff and many others on it. The price only says: "Basis for negotiation."

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Now it happens again and again on such online platforms that people with sentimental stories try to pull money out of the pockets of good-natured people. But in this case it is different. The ad appears three days later on the Instagram account @ bestofkleinschriften1, which keeps sharing curious offers. Behind the site is a 28-year-old from Hamburg who is on the Internet under the artist name Marcel Rolf. He doesn't want to read his real name in the newspaper, after all, he also has a "real job".

Rolf wanted to help. "Everyone messes up as a child," he says on the phone. "As a ten-year-old you just don't have a piece of paper about how much you have to work for 1000 euros." He wrote to the family, who initially did not take him seriously. "At first they thought I was kidding." Because he had shared the ad, the family also received a lot of negative letters: insults, envy, parenting tips. "The Internet is exhausting," says Rolf, who is followed by half a million subscribers on Instagram. "Everyone knows everything better."

After 15 minutes, the 1000 euros were collected

In this respect, he saw himself complicit in the unexpected flood of news. He launched an online appeal for donations. 15 minutes later the 1000 euros were there. 178 people had donated, most of them five euros. Marcel Rolf sent the family the money. "It was only when the 1000 euros were there via PayPal that they apparently believed that it was real," he says.

The family wants to remain anonymous and not give interviews, there should not be more unsolicited parenting tips. But on Saturday you could find out what mother and son think about the action. Marcel Rolf called her again and streamed the conversation live on the Internet, how to do it as a successful content creator. "How many hear me now?" Asks the mother uncertainly at the beginning. "Just a few people," says Marcel Rolf, around 600. Of course, the campaign is also an advertisement for his channel.

The mother says: At the end of November came the billing for her credit card, which she hardly ever uses. More than 1200 euros instead of the usual 200 to 400. "Oh God, maybe someone hacked our credit cards," she thought. Her husband had the card blocked. She found out that the money went to iTunes because of numerous in-app purchases. The ten-year-old son, who had received a smartphone for the new school year, had played a game with "small, cute characters that are fighting, but not such a bad game". She actually deactivated the fact that you can buy "diamonds and things like that" in the game, but the son changed that again. This was followed by calls to the bank, the game operator, and the lawyer. He advised: The company is based abroad, a lawsuit is time-consuming and expensive, you should rather leave it.

Two happy endings - one is still pending

The son wanted to help. "He just noticed that it cost us a lot of time, stress and nerves," says the mother. He suggested he could sell his old things online. But with books and CDs only 15 euros came together. "And then he said: my hat may be worth more." When Rolf asks the boy on the phone whether he has learned from it, a very remorseful "Yeah" can be heard. And: "Um, thank you very much for getting in touch." The mother announced that she would send the hat to Rolf and donate half of the money to a children's hospice.

If she is reading this article aloud to her son, she should stop now (although the boy can be trusted to find him on the net himself). Because there is still an agreement that the little one probably doesn't know about: At the beginning of March, for his eleventh birthday, Marcel Rolf wants to send the hat back to him. "I'm assuming that the boy has learned his lesson," says Rolf.