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AA: some corporate security / fraud practices in DOT complaint response

AA: some corporate security / fraud practices in DOT complaint response

Old Jul 6, 20, 2:20 pm
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AA: some corporate security / fraud practices in DOT complaint response

Ever wonder what details AAdvantage is parsing as it combs through accounts looking for fraudulent behavior? A program member filed a DOT complaint a couple months ago claiming that AA stole her points because it wouldn't refund them to a different account when she wanted to cancel an award (something the company won't typically do anyways). But the complaint triggered a response, and the carrier did not hold back.

It describes a mutli-year effort by a trio of bad actors to defraud the program through Citi CC applications using promo codes and other manipulations while all sharing phone numbers, email addresses and street addresses, among other things.
Indeed, the January 2020 email from the Complainant directing American to close her AAdvantage account was sent from one of several email accounts belonging to either her son-in-law or daughter and used to open AAdvantage accounts in furtherance of the fraud. The ticketed beneficiaries of the miles redeemed from the Complainantís AAdvantage account were her son-in-law and daughterÖThe Complainantís AAdvantage account activity thus was clearly part of a larger enterprise involving her son-in-law and daughter.
Some more details about the AA fraud detection in this story I wrote.
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Old Jul 6, 20, 4:00 pm
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If anyone thinks AA don't read flyer talk their detailed response puts paid to that idea as they have screen shots of threads in their submission to the DoT

Their response is very easy to read and surprisingly informal ising terms like 'ill gotton gains' and 'whack a mole'
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Old Jul 6, 20, 4:02 pm
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Ah so this is what kicked off the crack down on the whole citi card churning scheme. Pretty interesting stuff.
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Old Jul 6, 20, 4:43 pm
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Good. AA and every other carrier should crack down on people who are clearly attempting to game the system while most of us play by the rules.

I am amused the fraudsters thought complaining to the DOT would help them.
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Old Jul 6, 20, 5:52 pm
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
Ever wonder what details AAdvantage is parsing as it combs through accounts looking for fraudulent behavior?
Great catch! Thanks for posting. I read the whole doc. The level of scumbaggery is mind boggling. It's a crying shame we don't see some criminal prosecutions, convictions and 10 year prison terms. Sure can be a f'up world. As is said, this is why we can't have nice things! If one does some additional sleuthing after reading the full doc they may come away additionally surprised, I'll leave it at that.
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Old Jul 6, 20, 6:06 pm
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Good grief -- I cannot imagine someone opening so many credit card accounts! Actually, wouldn't that downgrade their credit ratings/scores?

From AA's Answer to the Complaint:
In fact, between the Complainant, her son-in-law and daughter, 45 Citi Card accounts were opened over a four-year period, entailing more than 1.4 million miles in New Account Mileage Bonuses. The 45 Citi Card accounts do not include an additional nine Citi Card accounts associated with the Complainant’s street address but established under names different than the Complainant, her son-in-law or daughter.

Over a similar timeframe, a further 16 AAdvantage accounts were established by the three of them.10 The 16 AAdvantage accounts do not include five additional AAdvantage accounts associated with the Complainant’s street address but established under names different than the Complainant, her son-in-law or daughter.
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Old Jul 6, 20, 6:10 pm
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Alas, AA botched the Certification to its own Answer, after complaining that the Complaint was not itself verified:
I understand than individual who is found to have violated the provisions of 18 U.S.C. ß 1001 shall be fined or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
The third word, "than" should be "that an" ...
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Old Jul 6, 20, 6:10 pm
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Originally Posted by USFlyerUS View Post
Good. AA and every other carrier should crack down on people who are clearly attempting to game the system while most of us play by the rules.

I am amused the fraudsters thought complaining to the DOT would help them.
No, AA sold miles to Citi which had its own interpretation of restrictions. Then AA unilately closed accounts and pocketed the money they got from citi. A fraud indeed but it was AA pulling the fast one.
While in this case multiple accounts were in violation of t&c however in countless cases AA shut down those who had only one account and who never violated any AA rules.
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Last edited by azepine00; Jul 6, 20 at 6:16 pm
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Old Jul 6, 20, 6:14 pm
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Originally Posted by azepine00 View Post
No, AA sold miles to Citi which had its own interpretation of restrictions. Then AA unilately closed accounts and pocketed the money they got from citi. A fraud indeed but it was AA pulling the fast one.
Hopefully you forgot to close with /s

Otherwise we're plumbing the bottom in ethics and morals.
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Old Jul 6, 20, 6:19 pm
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Originally Posted by LoungeLizardHugo View Post
Hopefully you forgot to close with /s

Otherwise we're plumbing the bottom in ethics and morals.
Ethics of corporation that found a way to pocket some extra cash indeed... but hey citi always bailed them out and now taxpayers do the same..
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Old Jul 6, 20, 6:27 pm
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Originally Posted by azepine00 View Post
No, AA sold miles to Citi which had its own interpretation of restrictions. Then AA unilately closed accounts and pocketed the money they got from citi. A fraud indeed but it was AA pulling the fast one.
While in this case multiple accounts were in violation of t&c however in countless cases AA shut down those who had only one account and who never violated any AA rules.


Its pretty clear AA isn't stupid or careless in this regard.
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Old Jul 6, 20, 6:38 pm
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Originally Posted by USFlyerUS View Post
Good. AA and every other carrier should crack down on people who are clearly attempting to game the system while most of us play by the rules.

I am amused the fraudsters thought complaining to the DOT would help them.
I don’t consider simple card churn fraud. If you don’t want to give away they miles don’t offer them as a bonus. Simple as that. It of course doesn’t help that one has to sit and listen to a 5-10 minute long commercial from your FA about how you’ll get all these amazing bonus miles and be able to travel to faraway exotic places. if you don’t want people getting the card simply for the bonus stop marketing the crAAp out of it in every available scenario.

The stupid Citi cards offer little to no value beyond the sign up bonus anyway. If you want to retrain cardholders offer better benefits.
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Last edited by cmd320; Jul 6, 20 at 6:49 pm
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Old Jul 6, 20, 6:38 pm
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@sbm12
Thanks for posting. Great reads, both your column and the DOT complaint. Fascinating really.

Originally Posted by UKtravelbear View Post
If anyone thinks AA don't read flyer talk their detailed response puts paid to that idea as they have screen shots of threads in their submission to the DoT.....
Indeed. Somehow, I really enjoyed seeing the screen shots of the FT pages listed in the DOT complaint.
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Old Jul 6, 20, 6:46 pm
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Originally Posted by USFlyerUS View Post
Good. AA and every other carrier should crack down on people who are clearly attempting to game the system while most of us play by the rules.

I am amused the fraudsters thought complaining to the DOT would help them.
Not as bad as someone calling the cops because their drug stash was stolen.... but not all that far off? LOL
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Old Jul 6, 20, 6:55 pm
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Originally Posted by cmd320 View Post
I donít consider simple card churn fraud. If you donít want to give away they miles donít offer them as a bonus. Simple as that. It of course doesnít help that one has to sit and listen to a 5-10 minute long commercial from your FA about how youíll get all these amazing bonus miles and be able to travel to faraway exotic places. if you donít want people getting the card simply for the bonus stop marketing the crAAp out of it in every available scenario.

The stupid Citi cards offer little to no value beyond the sign up bonus anyway. If you want to retrain cardholders offer better benefits.
Theres nothing wrong with churning, such as signing up for multiple cards (business and personal) and collecting the maximum number of miles. That is different than willfully opening accounts in excess of the aforementioned maximum.

Yes, Barclays should do a better job of validating, but saying thay it is "ok" is not materially different than saying I can help myself to my neighbors garage and random peoples mail because its openly accessible.
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