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-   Delta Air Lines | SkyMiles (https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/delta-air-lines-skymiles-665/)
-   -   Man Charged With Stealing 42 million DL SkyMiles (https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/delta-air-lines-skymiles/1987168-man-charged-stealing-42-million-dl-skymiles.html)

sydneyracquelle Sep 13, 19 12:46 pm

Man Charged With Stealing 42 million DL SkyMiles
 
Courtesy of ABC News: Since when are SM worth 4+ cents each??

https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/...ogram-65593713

ATOBTTR Sep 13, 19 12:59 pm

Was he able to redeem his one-way J ticket to Europe with those 42 million miles before getting caught? ;)

samwise6222 Sep 13, 19 1:01 pm


Originally Posted by sydneyracquelle (Post 31521938)
Courtesy of ABC News: Since when are SM worth 4+ cents each??

That's what Delta is claiming? :rolleyes: Can they buy my SkyMiles from me at 3c?



After actually reading the article, the crime seems to be that he entered SkyBonus account for non-employees... a bit extremely.

MSPeconomist Sep 13, 19 1:02 pm

It was SkyBonus.

Gig103 Sep 13, 19 2:44 pm

Suspect arrested for stealing 42,000,000 Skymiles
 
A man was indicted by federal prosecutors this week, accused of earning more than 42 million Delta frequent-flyer miles by committing fraud.
Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/delt...odolsky-2019-9

It goes on to say that he created a Skybonus account for a business he was not associated with to earn the miles.

The airline claims the miles are worth $1.75 million, which is beyond ludicrous. The man committed fraud and theft, but we all know the real value is closer to $500k.

FlyingHighlander Sep 13, 19 3:01 pm

Read about this elsewhere, but had to open FT for the jokes.

MSPeconomist Sep 13, 19 3:14 pm


Originally Posted by Gig103 (Post 31522287)
A man was indicted by federal prosecutors this week, accused of earning more than 42 million Delta frequent-flyer miles by committing fraud.
Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/delt...odolsky-2019-9

It goes on to say that he created a Skybonus account for a business he was not associated with to earn the miles.

The airline claims the miles are worth $1.75 million, which is beyond ludicrous. The man committed fraud and theft, but we all know the real value is closer to $500k.

It's worse than that. He had a travel agency and some relative owned a fertility clinic. He created the SkyBonus account for the fertility clinic and put their SkyBonus number on all the airline tickets he sold, despite the fact that his travel agency clients were not employees (and most of them probably never heard of the fertility clinic).

I wonder how he was caught. I also wonder why the relative wasn't arrested too.

Maybe the damage number is based on what it would have cost to purchase all the award tickets and other perks that were redeemed from the SkyBonus account, perhaps at last minute walk up fares (as if a fraudulent award ticket had been cancelled at the gate and the passenger had been forced to buy a ticket or be stranded).

BTW, do SkyBonus accounts earn regular SkyMiles (RDMs)? I thought earnings were measured in SkyBonus points based on hub/nonhub and length of flight purchased and flown.

ADDED: The Business Insider article first says SkyMiles (or DL FF miles) then later in the article says that it was forty-two million SkyBonus points.

Are there any standard estimates of the value of a SkyBonus point?

The guy was apparently a very high volume (I won't say good) travel agent, but he wants to call himself a "creative director" (like in the entertainment industry). I wonder whether he was advising his clients to buy DL tickets even if they were more expensive or less convenient.

If you google and try to go to their website, you see a Virtuoso "page not found." It's supposedly a luxury travel agency that's been in business for sixty years, so one wonders when this guy bought them. Locations are East Madison Street and East Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago.

Centurion Sep 13, 19 3:17 pm

This is comical that Delta is claiming this loss. I am sure Delta hired retired law enforcement and levered those people to convince current law enforcement the value of those sky bonus program to make this a criminal when in fact is really is civil case. I guess you still can buy the sheriff just like the old old west. I am sure Skybonus points are about worth as much as sky mile peso. Another disturbing factor that everyone seems to gloss over is miles are not considered taxable benefit or income yet now Delta wants to magically make the miles worth money.

ATOBTTR Sep 13, 19 3:23 pm


Originally Posted by Centurion (Post 31522394)
This is comical that Delta is claiming this loss. I am sure Delta hired retired law enforcement and levered those people to convince current law enforcement the value of those sky bonus program to make this a criminal when in fact is really is civil case. I guess you still can buy the sheriff just like the old old west. I am sure Skybonus points are about worth as much as sky mile peso. Another disturbing factor that everyone seems to gloss over is miles are not considered taxable benefit or income yet now Delta wants to magically make the miles worth money.

Actually incorrect. The IRS has determined that miles earned through flying are not taxable, but my understanding is if you receive more than $600 worth of miles through other means (such as a sweepstakes), then it is taxable and will be reported via a 1099. How "$600 worth of miles" is determined, I am not sure.
Some more reading: https://www.thetaxadviser.com/issues...am-points.html

Centurion Sep 13, 19 3:35 pm

I am not incorrect. <<The IRS has provided little guidance, and while the Tax Court has considered the issue, its 2014 Shankar decision1 leaves more questions than answers about the tax treatment of rewards programs>> furthermore I am trying to lift the veil of what probably really happened here. Delta hired retired law enforcement who handed a case to current law enforcement. And the majority of Flyertalk members would agree the dollar amount is comical since almost everyone on flyertalk calls Delta miles Sky Pesos

jlc1978 Sep 13, 19 3:50 pm


Originally Posted by MSPeconomist (Post 31522385)
I\BTW, do SkyBonus accounts earn regular SkyMiles (RDMs)? I thought earnings were measured in SkyBonus points based on hub/nonhub and length of flight purchased and flown.
.



Yes. The traveller gets the SM and the company gets the SB. Before they changed the rules I had a SB account for my company and earned both. Unfortunately I do not have 5 employees so no more SB for me; unless our planned merger goes through in which case we will.

jrl767 Sep 13, 19 3:52 pm


Originally Posted by MSPeconomist (Post 31522385)
...Are there any standard estimates of the value of a SkyBonus point?

redemptions for US48/Alaska/Canada RTs are 90K for coach, 175k for C+, and 250K for F (excluding TCONs which are 280K for F/D1); redemptions for Hawaii are 170K for coach, 350K for C+, and 435K for F/D1

Centurion Sep 13, 19 3:59 pm

A real news organization would dig into how this case was handed off to law enforcement. I assure you Delta hired retired law enforcement for their Delta private business that handed it over to a buddy who is not retired. Thats whats wrong here and not one lazy news organization will dig into the details. This is a civil matter that a big corporation has made criminal because they can buy off law enforcement.

bpe Sep 13, 19 4:06 pm


Originally Posted by Gig103 (Post 31522287)
A man was indicted by federal prosecutors this week, accused of earning more than 42 million Delta frequent-flyer miles by committing fraud.
Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/delt...odolsky-2019-9

It goes on to say that he created a Skybonus account for a business he was not associated with to earn the miles.

The airline claims the miles are worth $1.75 million, which is beyond ludicrous. The man committed fraud and theft, but we all know the real value is closer to $500k.


Originally Posted by MSPeconomist (Post 31522385)
Maybe the damage number is based on what it would have cost to purchase all the award tickets and other perks that were redeemed from the SkyBonus account, perhaps at last minute walk up fares (as if a fraudulent award ticket had been cancelled at the gate and the passenger had been forced to buy a ticket or be stranded).

The news articles all say $1.75 million worth of miles, but according to one of them, the actual indictment says "causing a loss to Delta of over $1.75 million dollars". I feel like this number is plausible and that Delta's lawyers would be smart enough to not put an exact dollar value on miles.

MSPeconomist Sep 13, 19 4:09 pm

It looks like their website is down, but you can still see their Facebook stuff, with pretty pictures on posts going as far back as 2015. They seem to emphasize the expected mix of luxury curated trips, including safaris, polar bears, spas, etc. with a heavy emphasis on their Virtuoso connection (which seems to be dead). More recently Eastern Europe seems to be stressed. The few reviews are all good, but no one mentions plane tickets.

It's curious that there's a post from about August 2017 announcing a new piece of software to enable other travel agents to provide *plane tickets* through Vega while the outside travel agent makes the hotel reservation and other arrangements. Vega seems to be offering a commission to participating outside travel agents.

For those who use SkyBonus, is it obvious that a plane ticket, itinerary, or boarding pass has a SkyBonus number attached? I assume that SkyBonus award tickets would look like award tickets, so that if someone were a DL FFer, they might notice if this travel agent is selling SkyBonus award tickets as if they were normal revenue tickets, or do these things book into regular inventory classes? I'm speculating, but it doesn't seem to make sense that this travel agent could have given $1,750,000 worth of DL plane tickets to friends and family. That might be about 150 TATL/TPAC RTs in D1 at over $10,000 each on average.


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