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

Old Jul 29, 2014, 10:15 am
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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..

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

Old Mar 19, 2019, 9:27 am
  #841  
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Originally Posted by sbrower
And some of them even use computers in their home to post, which means that they are using an IP address which can be traced.
Not sure how AA would figure out the IP address wherefrom someone posted on FT.

Last edited by GFrye; Mar 19, 2019 at 9:51 am
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Old Mar 19, 2019, 10:40 am
  #842  
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SO many posts ago...

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/30887239-post1254.html
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Old Mar 19, 2019, 11:41 am
  #843  
 
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Originally Posted by rrapynot
I was a victim of fraud back in December '18. I was able to phone AAdvantage before the passenger flew and her ticket was cancelled. I was told that "Security" would be in touch within a few days. Three months later and I've not heard a peep out of AA and my miles are still missing. Have called AAdvantage customer service 5 times but each time they tell me I need to just wait. Any suggestions for expediting this?
OP here with an update. After getting absolutely nowhere with AA for a couple of months, low and behold, one business day after posting here I got an email from AA Corporate Security. Coincidence or are they monitoring this forum? They are asking me to file a police report then they will consider redepositing the miles. Looks like progress at last.
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Old Mar 19, 2019, 11:51 am
  #844  
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Originally Posted by rrapynot
OP here with an update. After getting absolutely nowhere with AA for a couple of months, low and behold, one business day after posting here I got an email from AA Corporate Security. Coincidence...
Ah, the mysteries of the internet 😎
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Old Mar 19, 2019, 2:23 pm
  #845  
 
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Originally Posted by rrapynot
OP here with an update. After getting absolutely nowhere with AA for a couple of months, low and behold, one business day after posting here I got an email from AA Corporate Security. Coincidence or are they monitoring this forum? They are asking me to file a police report then they will consider redepositing the miles. Looks like progress at last.
OP - congratulations on making some progress! Best of luck the rest of the way.

Just curious however - what did AA Security want you to report? Since you called before the trip was taken, and AA Security cancelled the ticket before the flight was taken, in theory the miles weren't stolen from you as you prevented the theft.

Hopefully, your local Police Department is patient with you and will spend the time to take a report about an attempted theft that took place months ago that you were able to prevent (and on the internet no less).
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Old Mar 19, 2019, 4:05 pm
  #846  
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While the exact crime will differ depending on jurisdiction, the general crime of theft or wire fraud was complete when the bad guy transferred the miles from OP's account without OP's permission. Whether OP caught it before the ticket was flown and whether the miles are restored to him is irrelevant.

The reason for requiring a report is not so much because AA cares whether some local police department looses the hounds (not likely) but because making a false statement to AA is only actionable in the most theoretical sense while making a false statement to law enforcement is generally taken quite seriously. Thus, less likely that OP is a fraudster.
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Old Mar 19, 2019, 5:59 pm
  #847  
 
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Originally Posted by rrapynot
OP here with an update. After getting absolutely nowhere with AA for a couple of months, low and behold, one business day after posting here I got an email from AA Corporate Security. Coincidence or are they monitoring this forum? They are asking me to file a police report then they will consider redepositing the miles. Looks like progress at last.
Very glad to hear that AA got in touch with you and identified the next step for you to take to get everything restored! Perhaps [MENTION=5261]JonNYC[/MENTION]'s back-channel had something to do with that, if so, it's great that you posted here and that he saw it and was able to help.

Originally Posted by josmul123
An IP address does not identify a person. It can always be someone else who connected to your wi-fi, connected through your network, etc.
Not to mention NATs. Although presumably ISPs and other CG-NAT systems maintain records.
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Old Mar 20, 2019, 8:22 am
  #848  
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Originally Posted by lov2fly
Hopefully, your local Police Department is patient with you and will spend the time to take a report about an attempted theft that took place months ago that you were able to prevent (and on the internet no less).

I'm sympathetic on that front as well, but just something ya gotta do.
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Old Mar 20, 2019, 8:31 am
  #849  
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Is there a tip line where I can report violative conduct to AA CorpSec?
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Old Mar 20, 2019, 9:49 am
  #850  
 
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Originally Posted by VXforever
Is there a tip line where I can report violative conduct to AA CorpSec?
If you want to report a violation, I would guess that using the AA web site's "Contact AA" to send a message to Customer Relations would get your report forwarded to the right department.

Last edited by JDiver; Mar 20, 2019 at 11:14 am Reason: Replace deleted post with original post / question
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Old Mar 20, 2019, 10:26 am
  #851  
 
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Originally Posted by lov2fly
OP - congratulations on making some progress! Best of luck the rest of the way.

Just curious however - what did AA Security want you to report? Since you called before the trip was taken, and AA Security cancelled the ticket before the flight was taken, in theory the miles weren't stolen from you as you prevented the theft.

Hopefully, your local Police Department is patient with you and will spend the time to take a report about an attempted theft that took place months ago that you were able to prevent (and on the internet no less).
They asked me to get a police report with the name of the "suspect" (their words), amount of miles used and the date of the transaction.
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Old Mar 20, 2019, 11:17 am
  #852  
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Originally Posted by rrapynot
They asked me to get a police report with the name of the "suspect" (their words), amount of miles used and the date of the transaction.
The hassle will be going to a police station, filling out a report (which they might try to discourage your filing) which will merely take up space in a file drawer - and provide you with documentation AA “needs” to validate their process.

At least, the first part of that has been my experience.
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Old Mar 20, 2019, 11:24 am
  #853  
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Originally Posted by JDiver
The hassle will be going to a police station, filling out a report (which they might try to discourage your filing) which will merely take up space in a file drawer - and provide you with documentation AA “needs” to validate their process.

At least, the first part of that has been my experience.
Seem like a lot of insurance companies also want police reports for vandalism cases that have no hope of being resolved (perjury easier to prosecute than fraud) some PDs allow web reports to be filed. A call to 311 (if available) or the non-emergency number should get a quick answer on procedure.
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Old Mar 20, 2019, 11:35 am
  #854  
 
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Originally Posted by VXforever
Is there a tip line where I can report violative conduct to AA CorpSec?
Surely, reporting people who violate AA policy/screws them out of money, goes against your grand plan of “scamming” them and having them “take a loss” and “impacting their bottom line.”
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Old Mar 20, 2019, 12:02 pm
  #855  
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Originally Posted by Djokison


Surely, reporting people who violate AA policy/screws them out of money, goes against your grand plan of “scamming” them and having them “take a loss” and “impacting their bottom line.”

It pertains to SWU barter, which i'd argue doesn't really screw them out of money but is still violative.
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