Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > Airlines and Mileage Programs > American Airlines | AAdvantage
Reload this Page >

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 Apr 24, 2020, 2:11 am
  #931  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: SJC
Programs: AA, AS, Marriott
Posts: 6,184
Originally Posted by QueenOfCoach
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 offline  
Old Jul 27, 2020, 7:37 am
  #932  
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Programs: Marriott Ambassador, AA ExecPlat, Amtrak Select Exec, former WN apologist
Posts: 1,553
https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/pr/t...dit-card-fraud

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, 2020, 4:11 pm
  #933  
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 2,385
Originally Posted by Mr. BoH
https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/pr/t...dit-card-fraud

.

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, 2020 at 8:02 am
LovePrunes is offline  
Old Jul 27, 2020, 10:24 pm
  #934  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Manhattan Beach, California
Programs: BMI Diamond Club Gold forever
Posts: 6,367
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 offline  
Old Sep 1, 2020, 11:54 am
  #935  
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: DFW
Programs: AA GLD; SWA; Delta; USAir
Posts: 8
Originally Posted by kmersh
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.
jazzfeline is offline  
Old Jan 2, 2022, 11:13 pm
  #936  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 167
Is AA the only airline being so aggressive against "trading" miles?
oavcech is offline  
Old Jan 3, 2022, 12:08 am
  #937  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: PHL (kinda, no airport is really close)
Programs: AA Exp, but not sure for how long. Enterprise Platinum woo-hoo!
Posts: 4,552
Originally Posted by oavcech
Is AA the only airline being so aggressive against "trading" miles?
I'm not sure where this out-of-left-field post on this topic came from, but on general knowledge I'd say that all airlines address at least the most obvious cases. About ten years ago I was buying tickets from someone on Air Canada and they closed his account; fortunately it didn't affect any tickets I bought for my then-girlfriend.

The reality is that low-grade and under-the-radar violations usually won't get caught. If you sell miles to the woman in the cublicle next to yours, nothing is likely to happen. If you advertise tickets for sale on Craigslist, prepare to get busted.

I bought at least 30 or so tickets for my girlfriend/wife from a different person than I mentioned two paragraphs above, but 30 tickets for one person is different than one ticket for 30 people.
redtop43 is offline  
Old Jan 3, 2022, 11:25 am
  #938  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Programs: AA
Posts: 14,924
Historically, it seems AA has been the most aggressive against buying/selling miles, but there are threads on almost all the other boards about the same issue, so don't assume you'll get away with it on any airline.
wrp96 is offline  
Old Jan 3, 2022, 12:07 pm
  #939  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: KHOU/KIAH
Programs: AA EXP | Marriott LT Plat | Hyatt Discoverist
Posts: 11,534
Originally Posted by redtop43
I bought at least 30 or so tickets for my girlfriend/wife from a different person than I mentioned two paragraphs above, but 30 tickets for one person is different than one ticket for 30 people.
I've bought tickets and upgraded easily 20+ different people. Friends, family, coworkers etc. Never had any issues and I don't expect to as I've never sold or traded them.

AA's fraud department appears to be far more sophisticated than just number of names in an account. They seem to be the only sophisticated group, especially when compared to their IT, operations and leadership.
Ivan Denisovich likes this.
Antarius is offline  
Old Jan 3, 2022, 1:19 pm
  #940  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Chicago, IL
Programs: AA CK EXP 3MM, National EE, Hertz Plat
Posts: 323
Originally Posted by oavcech
Is AA the only airline being so aggressive against "trading" miles?
I love these tales.... Please share.
JSSAUCE is offline  
Old Dec 6, 2022, 9:33 pm
  #941  
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Houston, TX, USA
Programs: UA Platinum, AA Lifetime Platinum, DL Platinum, Honors Diamond, Bonvoy Ambassador, Hertz Platinum
Posts: 8,004
Gee, this thread has been quiet recently. It used to be that we had another tale every couple of months or so to keep us entertained. I have some microwave popcorn that's about to go past its expiry date, so hopefully something will happen soon. This thread is one of my all-time favorites on FT.
nsx, karenkay, Global321 and 1 others like this.
Steve M is offline  
Old Dec 6, 2022, 9:40 pm
  #942  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Northeast Kansas | Colorado Native
Programs: Amex Gold/Plat, UA *G, Hyatt Globalist, Marriott LT Gold, NEXUS, TSA Disparager Unobtanium
Posts: 21,761
Originally Posted by Steve M
Gee, this thread has been quiet recently. It used to be that we had another tale every couple of months or so to keep us entertained. I have some microwave popcorn that's about to go past its expiry date, so hopefully something will happen soon. This thread is one of my all-time favorites on FT.
Surprisingly there are only three folks selling SWUs on eBay as of a few minutes ago..maybe AA is waiting for their auctions to close
wrp96 and robertablake like this.
FriendlySkies is offline  
Old Dec 7, 2022, 8:47 am
  #943  
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Virginia, USA
Posts: 4,522
Very little market for upgrades anymore. Even legit ones are hard to use because of full paid premium cabins.
meechyathere likes this.
JetAway is offline  
Old Jun 9, 2023, 9:35 pm
  #944  
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Baltimore/Washington, USA
Programs: AA LT Platinum, Hilton LT Diamond, Marriott Titanium
Posts: 3,077
My account was hacked Wednesday. AA claims they notified me by my original email I’ve had for decades that email was changed from x to y and if I made the change, no worries.

If I didn’t make the change call account security.

Well, I never received an email (checked SPAM too).

So I found out by accident when I tried to log in yesterday.

I properly identified myself and they told me to call account security the next day.

Account security says that nobody got any miles before they caught it.

However, they are saying to gain access back, they will have to open a new account and transfer my miles to that new account. AND the account needs to have a different email.

They say that if I choose to keep my old number (nostalgic number from the 80’s), I will forfeit their ability to guarantee me they will protect me against fraud (get my miles back).

Do you all think this is fair to make me change my AAdvantage number AND email address?

They will be calling me back on Monday with clarification, etc.
chix is offline  
Old Jun 9, 2023, 9:49 pm
  #945  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: KHOU/KIAH
Programs: AA EXP | Marriott LT Plat | Hyatt Discoverist
Posts: 11,534
Originally Posted by chix
My account was hacked Wednesday. AA claims they notified me by my original email I’ve had for decades that email was changed from x to y and if I made the change, no worries.

If I didn’t make the change call account security.

Well, I never received an email (checked SPAM too).

So I found out by accident when I tried to log in yesterday.

I properly identified myself and they told me to call account security the next day.

Account security says that nobody got any miles before they caught it.

However, they are saying to gain access back, they will have to open a new account and transfer my miles to that new account. AND the account needs to have a different email.

They say that if I choose to keep my old number (nostalgic number from the 80’s), I will forfeit their ability to guarantee me they will protect me against fraud (get my miles back).

Do you all think this is fair to make me change my AAdvantage number AND email address?

They will be calling me back on Monday with clarification, etc.
If the only thing that you lose is your FFN, i wouldnt worry too much.

the other alternatives are much worse.
Antarius is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service -

This site is owned, operated, and maintained by MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Designated trademarks are the property of their respective owners.