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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 AA’s eyes, such as fictitious or fraudulent bookings to try to block seats to increase one’s 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, I’m 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, it’s 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 Feb 13, 2017, 7:04 pm
  #31  
nsx
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I think you meant to say:

Originally Posted by sbrower
This is probably just the result of AA corporate not recognizing legitimate exchange of money for empty white envelopes one piece of paper of zero intrinsic value for another.
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Old Feb 14, 2017, 8:25 am
  #32  
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Originally Posted by sbrower
I doubt anyone is really that stupid. They know it is against the program rules. This is probably just the result of AA corporate not recognizing legitimate exchange of money for empty white envelopes.
Yet, we are well over 2000 posts on the subject.

Conclusion: They may not be that stupid, but there are some that are that clueless. A chance to get money for something you can't/won't use? You draw the line as you please.
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Old Feb 14, 2017, 8:29 am
  #33  
 
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Originally Posted by RogerD408
Yet, we are well over 2000 posts on the subject.

Conclusion: They may not be that stupid, but there are some that are that clueless.
Might want to tune your sarcasm detector

Of course, sbrower forgets that nobody uses envelopes anymore. The actual problem is that AA doesn't recognize the immense value of a phone or email consultation from some guy on Cragislist about how to use frequent-flyer programs.
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Old Feb 14, 2017, 8:45 am
  #34  
 
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And I still see people on ebay today selling SWU / eVIP upgrade "advice" and throwing in a free upgrade with the transaction.
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Old Feb 14, 2017, 8:51 am
  #35  
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Originally Posted by AndyAA
And I still see people on ebay today selling SWU / eVIP upgrade "advice" and throwing in a free upgrade with the transaction.
Amazing how the sheep will line up to be fleeced; the shearer sat AA are undoubtedly ready for them, and one or two might end up here with a quizzical "wassup with that?"

In the meantime, members can feel free to borrow my device:

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Old Feb 14, 2017, 12:07 pm
  #36  
 
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Can you guys stop posting in this thread? Every time it goes bold, I get ready to pop some popcorn for the inevitable juicy story I'm about to read... Then I get sarcasm meters.

(I hope your meter is pinging right now)
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Old Feb 14, 2017, 1:08 pm
  #37  
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Originally Posted by josmul123
Can you guys stop posting in this thread? Every time it goes bold, I get ready to pop some popcorn for the inevitable juicy story I'm about to read... Then I get sarcasm meters.

(I hope your meter is pinging right now)
No deal!! .

That said, I can all gut guarantee that you'll be getting some "action" in this thread in the next few days as I personally know of 3 account freezings in the last 3 days-- and more to come, I feel pretty confident.
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Old Feb 14, 2017, 1:14 pm
  #38  
 
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Originally Posted by JonNYC
No deal!! .

That said, I can all gut guarantee that you'll be getting some "action" in this thread in the next few days as I personally know of 3 account freezings in the last 3 days-- and more to come, I feel pretty confident.
Well ... I offer SWU's to friends this time of year where I can easily establish the relationship if AA inquires (just as I have occasionally booked tickets for friends using miles). I'll confess, I'm a little leery, however, of giving them away to strangers here on FT even though I'm not getting anything in return where I can't establish the relationship with the person.
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Old Feb 14, 2017, 1:18 pm
  #39  
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Originally Posted by JonNYC
No deal!! .

That said, I can all gut guarantee that you'll be getting some "action" in this thread in the next few days as I personally know of 3 account freezings in the last 3 days-- and more to come, I feel pretty confident.
Get your popcorn ready!

http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p.../topopcorn.gif

Last edited by JDiver; Feb 20, 2017 at 5:16 pm Reason: Left link to animated gif
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Old Feb 20, 2017, 4:26 pm
  #40  
 
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miles?

Last edited by plainheart; Feb 21, 2017 at 9:06 pm
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Old Feb 20, 2017, 8:05 pm
  #41  
 
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My AAdvantage account deleted by Corp. Security after being gifted a SWU

If anyone here could offer some advice/assistance with contact information for executive and management personal I can write to, to plead for assistance, it would be appreciated. This guy from corporate security has ignored any requests for information.

My AAdvantage account, as well as that of a close friend of mine, were suspended and then deleted by an employee of American Airlines Corporate Security, with NO EVIDENCE of any wrongdoing by me. About a week before this began, I had been given a SWU from a girlfriend of mine who is an Executive Platinum. This was given as a gift and no money changed hands for this upgrade.

On Feb. 10th, I was contacted by someone claiming to be from corporate security department, accusing me of an unidentified violation of the AAdvantage program. This person refused to provide any details of exactly what I had done wrong and demanded I provide information such as “seller contact information” and “form of payment”. I had been accused of committing some kind of fraud against American without any information being presented.

Myself and the other person, complied to the best of our ability to answer his questions and provided evidence to support our statements. My responses that countered the accusations of guilt that the agent were making were ignored.

I have learned that my friend had tried to sell two of her VIP upgrades only a week earlier, which was the genesis of this situation. She is an Executive Platinum and had a couple SWU that were going to be expiring soon according to her. I took no part in her sale and have been persecuted simply for my relationship to her.

After a few days of this continuing ordeal, demanding to know who this person answered to and the contact information for his office, all we received were generic form emails saying our accounts were deleted. All I got was this stupid form letter after going back and forth:

Dear. xxxxxxx,

Thank you for your email. American Airlines management offices have full faith and confidence in Corporate Security. We do not make account assessments without evidence supporting that decision.

Unfortunately, you are unwilling to provide the information required for successful closure concerning your involvement in the violation. While we do not disclose all of the details of our investigation process, as to not hinder any other current or future investigations, we do not make assessments without evidence supporting that decision. Regrettably, we have been unable to resolve the conflict between the facts of our investigation and the detail you provided in our communication regarding this matter.

Without your cooperation, this matter cannot be resolved satisfactorily to American Airlines. The results of our review have compelled us to exercise our right in accordance with the General AAdvantage Program Conditions to terminate AAdvantage account xxxxxxxx. All membership benefits associated with the account have been eliminated, including all remaining miles. We view this action as the only response available to us that will not further jeopardize the integrity of the AAdvantage program and allow more violations of the General AAdvantage Program Conditions. This case is closed with our office.

All membership benefits associated with this account and any of your other accounts, including all remaining miles (unused award tickets, elite status, Systemwide upgrades, etc), are forfeited, effective February 17, 2017. You are no longer eligible to participate in the AAdvantage program.

Regards,


R. M.
AAdvantage Fraud Analyst
Corporate Security

What is so ridiculous about this is that i provided photographic evidence that we had been texting and she offered the upgrade to me as a gift. I had answered as many of his list of questions that I could to the best of my abilities. This guy is claiming that i was unwilling to cooperate because i could not answer what the "sellers website" was or an "invoice of the sale". I have been flying exclusively on American for years and i cant believe this is happening over something so stupid that i was not even involved in.

Any help would be appreciated.

Last edited by Snowycali; Feb 20, 2017 at 8:39 pm
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Old Feb 20, 2017, 8:15 pm
  #42  
 
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Unfortunately, by taking an upgrade from someone who was selling them, you are very much involved. Demanding to speak to supervisors and coming across as combative probably didn't help. I'm not sure if you have any recourse at this point.
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Old Feb 20, 2017, 8:21 pm
  #43  
 
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The tone you portray here is not helping anything. If you really have nothing to do with this I feel bad for you. There are always two sides to every story and we haven't heard the AA side (and won't) but typically in these situations it seems there is always a bit of info lacking....
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Old Feb 20, 2017, 8:21 pm
  #44  
 
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Originally Posted by rjw242
Unfortunately, by taking an upgrade from someone who was selling them, you are very much involved. Demanding to speak to supervisors and coming across as combative probably didn't help. I'm not sure if you have any recourse at this point.
Noted. Comments on my reaction when being falsely accused of fraud, rather than the inquisition thats taken place thanks to <redacted> of AA, is not helping.

Would it be helpful to post the whole email correspondence for the understanding of viewers here? If there is something specific i can add, please feel free.

Last edited by JDiver; Feb 20, 2017 at 10:34 pm
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Old Feb 20, 2017, 8:26 pm
  #45  
 
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Originally Posted by Snowycali
Would it be helpful to post the whole email correspondence for the understanding of viewers here? If there is something specific i can add, please feel free.
I don't think that's necessary, since there are one or two viewers here at most who can really speak knowledgeably to this kind of issue (and I'm not one of them ). It might be worth taking a look at the AAdvantage fraud thread (where I assume this will be merged) to see descriptions of similar experiences.
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