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Account audit / blocked / fraud: award / miles / SWU / sale, barter, etc.

Old Jul 29, 2014, 10:15 am
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
Last edit by: Prospero
This thread is dedicated to issues around American Airlines Corporate Security, AAdvantage Fraud division (AKA "Revenue Protection Unit"), and its enforcement of the AAdvantage Terms and Conditions - particularly to selling, buying and bartering awards, miles, upgrades and other instruments - and related issues.

It is okay at this time to gift awards, upgrades, etc. as long as there is absolutely no quid pro quo (no buying or selling or offer to do so, no barter or trade "you give me one now I'll give it back" or anything smacking of prohibited activity. AA is probably the strictest of the US airlines about this. They have a very active and expert AAdvantage Fraud division of the AA Corporate Fraud department, and they can both be aggressive and, some might say merciless - clawing back one's miles and instruments, even closing one's account and terminating status and ability to participate in the AAdvantage program n the future.

There are other ways to commit fraud in AAs eyes, such as fictitious or fraudulent bookings to try to block seats to increase ones chances if upgrades, generating tickets to access airside facilities (e.g. lounges) when there is no intent to fly, etc.

To read an example of how the US Department of Transportation has rules on punitive actions by AA, read Joel Hayes vs. American Airlines here (PDF).

Please read on for information and the consensus of knowledgeable members.

E.g. AAdvantage Terms and Conditions excerpt: "At no time may AAdvantage mileage credit or award tickets be purchased, sold, advertised for sale or bartered (including but not limited to transferring, gifting, or promising mileage credit or award tickets in exchange for support of a certain business, product or charity and/or participation in an auction, sweepstakes, raffle or contest). Any such mileage or tickets are void if transferred for cash or other consideration. Violators (including any passenger who uses a purchased or bartered award ticket) may be liable for damages and litigation costs, including American Airlines attorneys fees incurred in enforcing this rule." (This extends to other AA instruments such as Systemwide Upgrades, etc., selling of extra AirPass seats or baggage allowance, etc.)
Also see AAdvantage Program Terms and Conditions and

American Airlines Conditions of Carriage.

Originally Posted by SS255
<snip>"While you may consider the AAdvantage Miles in your account to be *your* property, they are actually the property of AA, and AA permits you to redeem them within the program rules set by AA. If AA detects any impropriety (real or perceived) in the use of AAdvantage miles, they reserve the right to confiscate the miles and/or close/delete the account."...
The typical email from AA Corporate Security can not be addressed by calling AAdvantage Customer Service or other methods - you must reply to the email address given. It likely will look like this:

My name is Fname Lname, and I am an analyst with American Airlines. One of my responsibilities is investigating possible instances of fraud, misrepresentation, and violations of the General AAdvantage Program Conditions. Today, Im writing you about your AAdvantage account # XXXXXXXX

We have reason to believe that the transactions listed below violate one or more of the AAdvantage program conditions. This includes, but is not limited to, prohibition of purchase, sale, or barter of mileage credit and or award tickets. As a result, American Airlines has suspended your AAdvantage membership privileges and use of AA.com in conjunction with your account and may terminate your account as a result of our findings. We are in the process of completing the investigation into this matter, and I would like to hear the events as they occurred from your perspective. Please respond to this message by <date> with complete and accurate information regarding the activities listed below:

<specific activity /activities in question>

Required Information:
  • Passenger name
    • Origin and destination cities on the travel itinerary
      • Purchaser name (individual, company and/or website), including:
        • Copy of any advertisements to which you responded offering to purchase/broker the use of your AAdvantage miles
          • Purchaser contact information, such as:
            • Mailing address
              • Email address
                • Telephone number
                  • Website profile name
                    • Your statement fully disclosing the details surrounding the sale/barter transaction referenced above
                      • Copy of all communication between yourself and the purchaser
                        • Documentation that you received payment


To protect and retain the integrity of the AAdvantage program, it is vital that firm action be taken as a result of any violation of the AAdvantage Program Conditions, whether intentional or not. Failure to respond completely and accurately by <insert date>, will result in the termination of your AAdvantage membership and all its benefits, including all remaining AAdvantage miles in your account and any award tickets issued from it. Please, understand that our overall motivation is to preserve the benefits of the AAdvantage program, rather than to take punitive action against individuals. To that end, its not unusual for us to release the AAdvantage account suspension once we receive all the detail we request and reconcile it with the results of our investigation. We hope to hear from you soon.

Regards,

Fname Lname, etc.
Excellent summaries of information (based on the sum of experiences we have seen in this thread over time) of how to respond:

Blogger Gary Leff: "If you made that mistake and got caught, American usually will go light on first-time offenders provided that they come clean and are forthcoming about whom a systemwide was sold to or purchased from and what the terms were. They are most interested in serial brokers and are willing to plea bargain with minor offenders to get the Evip-lords. There may be a consequence but it should fall short of account shutdown and forfeiture of miles." Link
Originally Posted by sbrower
I am going to try and provide a summary of the advice. For the record, this is 90% from Jon (JonNYC) and a little bit from other comments and circumstances, I am just trying to provide an easy summary, without all the explanations and reasons. I am happy to have others update/correct.

1. Respond to the questions in the email which you received. Don't try to call or email that person, or anyone else, at AA or DOT or whatever. Just answer the email.

2. Answer every question, in detail, with the facts. Don't use sarcasm or "you should know" or anything else that sounds like to you are avoiding the exact question being asked.

3. Assume that they know more about the true facts than you do. It might not always be true, but in most cases they have way more information than you might assume. So go back to #2, above.

4. If you did ANYTHING that was wrong (not under your interpretation of what you think the rules should be, but based on what the rules actually say) then, if you want to continue to participate in the AAdvantage program, tell them about your error and tell them that you are prepared to pay a correct penalty for your mistake (miles/status/etc) and then go back to #2, above.
From JonNYC, our resident expert on this:

Originally Posted by JonNYC
Perfect and 100%.
<snip>

The analysts that do this for a living have the same reactions that any humans do to being lied to and/or condescended to. Therefore, as well as being 100% truthful, go out of your way NOT to be:

-condescending
-brusque
-sharp, terse and/or sounding like you're being inconvenienced
-insulting
-just generally slippery, aloof, evasive and unforthcoming. As mentioned; they know more than you think they do. Always.

DO be apologetic, contrite and extremely cooperative.

Finally, any version of "...in which case, I'll be emailing [insert name or department here] to tell them how I, a [insert years flying AA, status, MMer, $$ spent, etc] customer is being treated" and/or mention of your lawyer, DOT, Chris Elliot (), this forum, any blogger, etc. DO NOT DO THIS.
Older posts have been archived to the
archived thread.

A number of posts regarding AA's confiscation of 60,000 miles from "Mr. Hayes" for allegedly making "fictitious" bookings in search of whether his upgrade would be likely to progress or not, AA IT issues that might have led to this (or not), AA's replies and the USDOT complaint have been moved to a new thread: Hayes, USDOT and AA: "fictitious bookings" and checking upgrades.

NOTE: Posts about members experiencing account security breaches, fraud, theft of awards and instruments have moved to Account fraud / breach: my account compromised, awards stolen, etc..

Print Wikipost

Account audit / blocked / fraud: award / miles / SWU / sale, barter, etc.

Old Jun 30, 2017, 9:57 am
  #241  
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Originally Posted by aaudit
My AA account is closed due to auditing. Can I open a new one with a new address in the future?
Originally Posted by Global321
Yes, you can open the account today. But, as JonNYC told you, they will track it down and close the account. You will lose all your miles and status.

What did you do? JonNYC or others *might* be able to help you directly or you can tell us what you did and you can get the collective wisdom of this thread.
Originally Posted by aaudit
Relax man, I'll be fine. I'll open a new one and let's see what will happen.
AA Security is been doing their job for quite some time and have learned how to find bogus accounts. Hey, they even read FT and you've just put a bigger target on your back saying you will be opening another account. Unless you've secured multiple identities (passport/ID/travel patterns) something is going to tie you back to previous account(s). Remember, this is what this group does for a living.

Once you've been fired as a customer, you're best taking your business elsewhere. Being caught away from home and having your award ticket cancelled is very painful.
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Old Jun 30, 2017, 10:24 am
  #242  
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You are mistaking members' inside and extensive knowledge as advocacy or partisanship toward American Airlines. AA has a highly skilled Corporate Security - AAdvantage Fraud group, who use software and extensive experience to catch those who violate the AAdvantage terms and conditions. Reading this and previous threads will reveal much of that, including members here who were pretty sure of themselves.

Perhaps you believe "it won't happen to me!" The ancient Greeks called this attitude "hubris" and wrote plays about what happened to those with great hubris who ignored the lessons of history and the warnings.

Well, here's the deal: you've decided to write off some very knowledgeable, longtime members who have seen dozens, if not more, who thought they could beat AA at their game. (And yes, this site has specific rules against encouraging or supporting fraudulent activity as well - and in spite of that, members have been caught trying to violate AAdvantage T&Cs, had miles confiscated, had status revoked and had accounts permanently closed, with no possibility of opening new ones.)

Moderator note: If you wanted to fix your account closure, you might be able to get some assistance if the closure was recent. If you want advice or support in committing fraud against an airline, you won't find such on this site.

Last edited by Microwave; Jun 30, 2017 at 4:34 pm
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Old Jun 30, 2017, 10:26 am
  #243  
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I would think it would be easy to flag a new account either by birthday or name both of which you need to travel. It wouldn't surprise me in the least to learn that they have a list of people and their identifiers who have been terminated to avoid this very situation.
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Old Jun 30, 2017, 10:31 am
  #244  
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Originally Posted by abk
I would think it would be easy to flag a new account either by birthday or name both of which you need to travel. It wouldn't surprise me in the least to learn that they have a list of people and their identifiers who have been terminated to avoid this very situation.
Boom! This member understands...
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Old Jun 30, 2017, 10:32 am
  #245  
 
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Originally Posted by aaudit
I have a Citi mailer code and I haven't opened the aviator card yet. I have a redemption in my mind so when the miles post I'll burn it right away.
If "burn it right away" means you will again commit the same fraud to sell the miles immediately then you might have more than just AA come after you!

Last edited by Microwave; Jun 30, 2017 at 4:36 pm
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Old Jun 30, 2017, 10:33 am
  #246  
 
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You are getting the benefit of combined experience and some insider knowledge.

None of us were thrilled with the devaluation. And I think very few of us are saying to 'bend over to AA'. There are two facts you cannot escape here...
  1. You broke a big rule with AA. You got caught.
  2. You are planning on breaking another big rule with AA. You will get caught.

You seem to be betting that you can open an account and use the miles before AA catches you again. That is up to you. But, remember, this is all some people do at AA security... look and catch people who break the rules. Day in and day out. Every day. They have seen just about every scam out there... and I am sure they have seen many scams most of us would never even think of.

I am struggling to understand how your plan to break the rules again, open another account, earned some miles, use those miles before being caught is better than the advice you have received here... admit guilt, (hopefully) get your account reinstated, earn miles and use them without fear of losing them again. What do you have to lose by doing the 'right' thing?

If you were telling us...
  1. You already tried and you were told no way/ never.
  2. You have miles that for some reason must be earned and used on AA.
  3. And breaking the rules again was the only way to get value from these miles.

... at least I think we could understand why you want to go for the long shot of getting away with breaking the rules and using the miles before getting caught again.

As other's have pointed out, you have two 'smart' choices here.
  1. Admit guilt and maybe get your account reopened (without the miles).
  2. Just switch to another airline to earn/use miles.

But, as someone else stated, you do you.

Last edited by Microwave; Jun 30, 2017 at 4:38 pm Reason: Removed quotes of deleted posts
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Old Jun 30, 2017, 11:22 am
  #247  
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I am going to give a slightly different answer, not because I disagree with the advice here, but because, after 37 years as a litigation/trial attorney, I think I have some expertise in reading what people write and understanding a lot about them (yes, those are assumptions, but I get paid for my ability to make exactly those assumptions). So, subject to the fact that this is just a public IBB, my conclusion is that the OP (OP as to the current discussion, that is) should NOT bother trying to save their account, because they are likely incapable of making a persuasive case of true understanding (I would bet that further research would show that this isn't the first time, and won't be the last time).
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Old Jun 30, 2017, 11:46 am
  #248  
 
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Every credit card application I've seen asks for your name, address, etc. (they likely already have the info if they've sent a mailer code). AA therefore has a convenient source to check the accuracy of the information you use to open an aadvantage account when get bonus miles from the card company.
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Old Jun 30, 2017, 2:01 pm
  #249  
 
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Originally Posted by abk
I would think it would be easy to flag a new account either by birthday or name both of which you need to travel. It wouldn't surprise me in the least to learn that they have a list of people and their identifiers who have been terminated to avoid this very situation.
I am sure it is routine to bounce all fields of new accounts against terminated accounts. If anything matches, then flag the match and get an experienced human being to look at the two accounts (new and terminated) in detail. That's where you find amateur attempts to beat the system. ("Joe Blow" in one account, "Joseph Blow" in the other.)

Once a human beings starts looking at the records, the cheater is toast.

I do this kind of thing for a living, but not at an airline.
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Old Jul 2, 2017, 9:40 pm
  #250  
 
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Just sounds like taunting to me. We have plenty of social media responses to that attitude and they don't tend to be pretty.
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Old Jul 2, 2017, 11:54 pm
  #251  
 
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Originally Posted by Rebob
Just sounds like taunting to me. We have plenty of social media responses to that attitude and they don't tend to be pretty.
It's hard to understand pure short-term thinking. I can't imagine anyone can sell miles from credit card bonuses at a high enough price that would make it worth never being able to participate and one of the airlines frequent flyer plans.

Of course, when somebody makes up a new account on here, it always makes me wonder if they are a poster under a different name
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Old Jul 3, 2017, 10:38 am
  #252  
 
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Originally Posted by C17PSGR
It's hard to understand pure short-term thinking. I can't imagine anyone can sell miles from credit card bonuses at a high enough price that would make it worth never being able to participate and one of the airlines frequent flyer plans.
I can imagine it pretty easily: say you have no interest in accumulating miles or earning status for your own use, likely because you rarely, if ever, fly, and when you do you choose the cheapest option each time, so never accumulate enough miles in one airline to be useful. In such a case, it can seem like easy money to open credit card accounts and use manufactured spending to earn bonuses, then sell those miles as awards within days of earning them. This assumes you don't care that you yourself can't use miles you might earn, and you also don't care that the poor sap who ends up with an award ticket from your miles is likely to be in the situation of having to purchase an expensive one-way ticket home, as well as at risk of losing his/her miles. A sap who might possibly believe he/she is buying a legitimate ticket from a consolidator.
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Old Jul 3, 2017, 12:20 pm
  #253  
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Originally Posted by C17PSGR
It's hard to understand pure short-term thinking. I can't imagine anyone can sell miles from credit card bonuses at a high enough price that would make it worth never being able to participate and one of the airlines frequent flyer plans.

Of course, when somebody makes up a new account on here, it always makes me wonder if they are a poster under a different name
Plenty of people doing just that - though not via brokers. Only those who are stupid would do it via brokers (and got caught).

Originally Posted by anabolism
I can imagine it pretty easily: say you have no interest in accumulating miles or earning status for your own use, likely because you rarely, if ever, fly, and when you do you choose the cheapest option each time, so never accumulate enough miles in one airline to be useful. In such a case, it can seem like easy money to open credit card accounts and use manufactured spending to earn bonuses, then sell those miles as awards within days of earning them.
I am quite surprise on why AA never ventures to sites where NON frequent flyers use, where offer to sell miles and points of all kind are openly posted, as well requests to buy "currencies". It is mind boggling to me that why would such escape any FFPs but apparently No FFP pays any attention to this "niche" bartering.
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Old Jul 3, 2017, 12:31 pm
  #254  
 
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Originally Posted by Happy
I am quite surprise on why AA never ventures to sites where NON frequent flyers use ...
Why would you think they don't?
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Old Jul 3, 2017, 12:42 pm
  #255  
 
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Originally Posted by Happy
Plenty of people doing just that - though not via brokers. Only those who are stupid would do it via brokers (and got caught).



I am quite surprise on why AA never ventures to sites where NON frequent flyers use, where offer to sell miles and points of all kind are openly posted, as well requests to buy "currencies". It is mind boggling to me that why would such escape any FFPs but apparently No FFP pays any attention to this "niche" bartering.
I don't know what sites you're referring to but I think its pretty clear from the one time posters to this thread that eBay and Craigslist are monitored for miles and SWU's.
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