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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..

Print Wikipost

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

Old Mar 30, 2024, 9:53 pm
  #976  
 
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Originally Posted by anabolism
That's pretty common: in order to have a login, there needs to be an account that hold data, and accounts need a unique identifier. For AA, that's the AAdvantage number.

Can I ask for what purposes you want a login account but not an AAdvantage number? Maybe there's a workaround.
Fair question. I took advantage of the Citi AA card offers (to friends) with no 24/48 month restrictions. After a couple years (and 6 cards) AA gave me the boot and said "no more FF accounts for you."

I recently tried to set up a login, but when it assigned me an FF# I immediately called to cancel it. Maybe they wouldn't mind if I opened one, 5 years later, but I'd rather not try without some assurances that I wouldn't get my head handed to me.
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Old Mar 31, 2024, 8:31 am
  #977  
 
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Originally Posted by SpammersAreScum
Fair question. I took advantage of the Citi AA card offers (to friends) with no 24/48 month restrictions. After a couple years (and 6 cards) AA gave me the boot and said "no more FF accounts for you."

I recently tried to set up a login, but when it assigned me an FF# I immediately called to cancel it. Maybe they wouldn't mind if I opened one, 5 years later, but I'd rather not try without some assurances that I wouldn't get my head handed to me.
Just curious... any reason you would not just open an Alaska account? With all the reciprocal benefits now, seems like the perfect option for those that AA gave the boot to.
(Managing AA reservations is as simple as locator number and last name.)
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Old Mar 31, 2024, 12:35 pm
  #978  
 
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Originally Posted by SpammersAreScum
Fair question. I took advantage of the Citi AA card offers (to friends) with no 24/48 month restrictions. After a couple years (and 6 cards) AA gave me the boot and said "no more FF accounts for you."

I recently tried to set up a login, but when it assigned me an FF# I immediately called to cancel it. Maybe they wouldn't mind if I opened one, 5 years later, but I'd rather not try without some assurances that I wouldn't get my head handed to me.
Thanks for clarifying. For further clarification, why do you want a login? Are you booking AA flights and crediting to another airline, and want an easy way to see all your flights?
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Old Mar 31, 2024, 9:44 pm
  #979  
 
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Originally Posted by Global321
Just curious... any reason you would not just open an Alaska account? With all the reciprocal benefits now, seems like the perfect option for those that AA gave the boot to.
(Managing AA reservations is as simple as locator number and last name.)
Originally Posted by anabolism
Thanks for clarifying. For further clarification, why do you want a login? Are you booking AA flights and crediting to another airline, and want an easy way to see all your flights?
After AA gave me the boot, I did indeed switch to AS -- and BA -- for earning. I don't want to go too far down this path because it's off-topic, I think.

As to the latter, that's basically it. Being in SE US, switching bulk of flights to AS is impractical. It's just a matter of convenience for the Mainly AA flights.
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Old Apr 1, 2024, 1:23 pm
  #980  
 
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Originally Posted by SpammersAreScum
After AA gave me the boot, I did indeed switch to AS -- and BA -- for earning. I don't want to go too far down this path because it's off-topic, I think.

As to the latter, that's basically it. Being in SE US, switching bulk of flights to AS is impractical. It's just a matter of convenience for the Mainly AA flights.
Thanks for clarifying. One option would be signing up for a new AAdvantage account, as there's a good chance AA won't catch it. However, you'll have to manually change the frequent flyer number of each trip, and my recollection is that when you remove your AAdvantage number from a trip, it drops off the list of trips that show up when you log in. The iPhone app, at least, lets you add trips back in, and they tend to stick since they're cached locally, but I don't know if the website allows this.
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Old Apr 1, 2024, 3:03 pm
  #981  
 
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Originally Posted by anabolism
Thanks for clarifying. One option would be signing up for a new AAdvantage account, as there's a good chance AA won't catch it. However, you'll have to manually change the frequent flyer number of each trip, and my recollection is that when you remove your AAdvantage number from a trip, it drops off the list of trips that show up when you log in. The iPhone app, at least, lets you add trips back in, and they tend to stick since they're cached locally, but I don't know if the website allows this.
I don't believe that there is any way to get a record to stick in the AA account if you change the number on the PNR. It would be nice if AA.com kept a list of active PNRs to display but AA may not like those who credit elsewhere.
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Old Apr 1, 2024, 4:28 pm
  #982  
 
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Originally Posted by MADPhil
I don't believe that there is any way to get a record to stick in the AA account if you change the number on the PNR. It would be nice if AA.com kept a list of active PNRs to display but AA may not like those who credit elsewhere.
As I wrote, it works (at least for some time) in the iPhone app, but the website is a different matter.
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Old Apr 1, 2024, 8:14 pm
  #983  
 
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Originally Posted by anabolism
Thanks for clarifying. One option would be signing up for a new AAdvantage account, as there's a good chance AA won't catch it. However, you'll have to manually change the frequent flyer number of each trip, and my recollection is that when you remove your AAdvantage number from a trip, it drops off the list of trips that show up when you log in. The iPhone app, at least, lets you add trips back in, and they tend to stick since they're cached locally, but I don't know if the website allows this.
I appreciate the suggestions. But at this point I'm a bit gun-shy. I'd hate to learn up on this new LP scheme, get the card(s) and what-not, and shift gears again, only to have AA bring the hammer down again -- possibly more forcefully. BA/AS is working for me, although a bit less well now that AS has devalued.

Or maybe you're saying I use an AA# just to keep things organized on their website, but substitute the other airline's before I fly? I might be willing to risk that, although as we know making such changes has its own headaches.
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Old Apr 2, 2024, 7:33 am
  #984  
 
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Originally Posted by SpammersAreScum
I appreciate the suggestions. But at this point I'm a bit gun-shy. I'd hate to learn up on this new LP scheme, get the card(s) and what-not, and shift gears again, only to have AA bring the hammer down again -- possibly more forcefully. BA/AS is working for me, although a bit less well now that AS has devalued.

Or maybe you're saying I use an AA# just to keep things organized on their website, but substitute the other airline's before I fly? I might be willing to risk that, although as we know making such changes has its own headaches.
I think you are right to be concerned about a second shutdown. Everything in this thread suggests that AA will find your new account relatively quickly, zero out the miles and shut it down.
If you were really interested in an AA account I would email the VP of loyalty, explain what happened, assure them you have learned your lesson and ask for a second chance. No idea if it would work, but, it might be worth 10 minutes of your time.

In terms of managing flights, it is not ideal, but entering your locator and last name does everything you need to do. Also, probably less time consuming than going in and changing your FF number each flight.
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Old Apr 2, 2024, 7:53 am
  #985  
 
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Originally Posted by SpammersAreScum
I appreciate the suggestions. But at this point I'm a bit gun-shy. I'd hate to learn up on this new LP scheme, get the card(s) and what-not, and shift gears again, only to have AA bring the hammer down again -- possibly more forcefully. BA/AS is working for me, although a bit less well now that AS has devalued.

Or maybe you're saying I use an AA# just to keep things organized on their website, but substitute the other airline's before I fly? I might be willing to risk that, although as we know making such changes has its own headaches.
Yes, exactly. My suggestion was just as a way to find and manage your trips. But, as I noted, it's problematic when another airline's frequent-flyer number is assgned, as neither the website nor the app will show them by default, although the iPhone app at least will retain a manually-added PNR for some time.
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Old Apr 2, 2024, 8:06 am
  #986  
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Originally Posted by anabolism
although the iPhone app at least will retain a manually-added PNR for some time.
Android as well. Retains until the flight happens (or you manually clear your storage)

I wish this feature would be rolled out on an account basis and not just locally to a device. I book and/or monitor flights for my family and friends (I'm a free travel agent - they're happy and airplane nerd me is happy) and it would be nice to be able to see all of the upcoming trips on the website as well.
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Old Apr 2, 2024, 8:43 am
  #987  
 
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Originally Posted by Antarius
Android as well. Retains until the flight happens (or you manually clear your storage)

I wish this feature would be rolled out on an account basis and not just locally to a device. I book and/or monitor flights for my family and friends (I'm a free travel agent - they're happy and airplane nerd me is happy) and it would be nice to be able to see all of the upcoming trips on the website as well.
Yes, that would be nice. (Also nice would be restoring the ability to rename trips.)
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Old Apr 3, 2024, 4:59 am
  #988  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
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Originally Posted by bg26892
The one thing I can think of is that maybe for whatever reason my most recent award redemption (which I ended up canceling last minute) was a flight from Pakistan to Sri Lanka. Maybe for some reason this looked suspect on their end?

Update - received an email from [email protected] saying that I should hear back via email this week. Fingers crossed!
Dozens of phone calls, dozens of emails, all have gone largely unanswered.

[email protected] responded back in February that someone would follow up with me but I've heard nothing despite my continued weekly persistent emails to the same email address requesting follow up.

Does anyone have any suggestions on recourse after 6 months of attempted contact?
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Old Apr 3, 2024, 5:12 am
  #989  
 
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Originally Posted by bg26892
Dozens of phone calls, dozens of emails, all have gone largely unanswered.

[email protected] responded back in February that someone would follow up with me but I've heard nothing despite my continued weekly persistent emails to the same email address requesting follow up.

Does anyone have any suggestions on recourse after 6 months of attempted contact?
Maybe it's time to go to the top.
[email protected]
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Old Apr 3, 2024, 9:41 am
  #990  
 
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Originally Posted by SpammersAreScum
Or maybe you're saying I use an AA# just to keep things organized on their website, but substitute the other airline's before I fly? I might be willing to risk that, although as we know making such changes has its own headaches.
Every time I have done that lately I have got an agent who has had to learn how to do it but it has always worked eventually.
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