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

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

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Old May 2, 18, 1:04 am   -   Wikipost
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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 View Post
<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.


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 View Post
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 View Post
Perfect and 100%.

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:

-sharp, terse and/or sounding like you're being inconvenienced
-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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Old Apr 24, 20, 2:11 am
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: SJC
Programs: AA, AS, Marriott
Posts: 4,717
Originally Posted by QueenOfCoach View Post
Again, my speculation and educated guess.
As I've mentioned before, I have monitored this thread and its predecessors for years, and I have only seen one case where the original poster didn't deviate from the initial story where more details later emerged. In all other cases that I can recall, either the original poster implied or stated culpability or there was a security concern of sorts, such as what happened recently. I recall a case a few years back where a poster's account had been compromised, and the person was repeatedly trying to contact AA to inform them of what was happening when he noticed someone booking awards using his account. In the process, AA temporarily locked that poster's account, but the matter was resolved relatively quickly.

As JDiver said, gifting of awards should be worry free. If it weren't, one would imagine we would have additional data points accumulated in this thread over the years.
Majuki is online now  
Old Jul 27, 20, 7:37 am
Join Date: Apr 2011
Programs: Marriott Ambassador, AA Plat, Amtrak Select Exec, former WN apologist
Posts: 423

From August 2014 through May 2016, Lev recruited individuals to give him their personally identifiable information, such as names and Social Security numbers, which Lev used to open numerous small-business accounts in their names with the victim credit card company. With Gibson’s assistance, Lev then used those accounts to make purchases that generated rewards points, which could be redeemed for frequent-flyer miles with various airlines. Once the points were issued, Lev cancelled the purchases and sold the points to Gibson, who resold them to third parties for use as miles to purchase airfare. Over two years, the scheme cost the credit card company more than $8 million in fees paid to the airlines for acceptance of points for miles

I assume this is related to the enhanced security / shutdowns earlier this year. All I have to say is... $8 million? Mind-boggling to me that people would have the gall to try and do it on that scale. I could see somebody getting tempted for a couple free flights, but surely at this scale it was just a matter of time before they were caught.
Mr. BoH is offline  
Old Jul 27, 20, 4:11 pm
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 1,364
Originally Posted by Mr. BoH View Post


I assume this is related to the enhanced security / shutdowns earlier this year. All I have to say is... $8 million? Mind-boggling to me that people would have the gall to try and do it on that scale. I could see somebody getting tempted for a couple free flights, but surely at this scale it was just a matter of time before they were caught.
It's POSSIBLE it's Citibank and AA (Citi Thankyou points but prob not the Citi/Barclay AA cards) but sounds from the indictment it's much more likely to be Amex rewards points or Chase Ultimate Rewards. The FELONY indictments (yikes) specifically say they redeemed the credit card points for airline miles on various airlines, rather than referring the bonus currency as miles earned from spending. The indictment also mentions $8 million as money had to pay to various airlines when the points were exchanged for airline miles, which is different than purchasing bazillions of AA miles and handing them out like candy for SUB's and for monthly spend.
The $8 million is a big number but even more mind boggling: opening 7.000 credit card accounts using false pretenses in the name of 1.500 other people.
Ms. 45 has nothing on these fraudsters. They are likely facing a long haul in jail.

Here's the indictment: https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/pres...81716/download

Last edited by LovePrunes; Jul 28, 20 at 8:02 am
LovePrunes is offline  
Old Jul 27, 20, 10:24 pm
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 5,724
I agree w LovePrunes, skimmed the indictment and it definitely talks a out Loyalty Points converted to Airline Miles. So it was Citi TYP, chase UR or AMEX MRs. But it is definitely not the Citi or Barclay cards that generated AA miles bonuses which we have all read about here.
stephem is online now  
Old Sep 1, 20, 11:54 am
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: DFW
Programs: AA GLD; SWA; Delta; USAir
Posts: 8
Originally Posted by kmersh View Post
So an update, I.booked the tickets as two one-ways....

Interestingly, the American Airlines phone rep did ask how we were getting home and I explained that I was booking the return portion via Alaska Airlines.
Slightly off topic, but don't be surprised if they ask you the same question at the airport. I (US citizen) flew AA one way to Jamaica, and the ticket counter agent wanted to see proof of return travel (my return ticket was on a different airline) before handing me my boarding pass. Jamaica required them to check for evidence I plan to return home from my vacation.
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