Author Topic: FF miles stolen via a fraudulent account setup  (Read 3032 times)

lhamo

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FF miles stolen via a fraudulent account setup
« on: December 05, 2014, 07:42:32 PM »
I've got a question related to my frequent flyer miles that I wonder if anyone here has any experience with.

I flew a trans-pacific flight last spring on United, but since the flight was booked through our local travel agent I didn't have my frequent flyer number entered with the reservation.  I tried to request credit for the flight a few weeks ago, but United told me the miles had already been credited to another account at Avianca.  They said they need verification from Avianca that the account was not set up by me before they can re-credit the miles.  Avianca is being completely worthless in their follow up.  Basically telling me the account was set up legitimately, but not providing me ANY information about where/when the account was established and what happened to the miles.  I have just sent them a scathing email asking to have the case handled directly by a manager, and indicating I will take the situation to social media if I don't get a satisfactory response within 10 business days.  I mean seriously -- this is 12k in miles, or 1/2 a domestic ticket.  I'm not just going to take it lying down.

I actually have suspicions that our local travel agent might be stealing miles.  We book a LOT of flights through them, and many of the passengers probably don't have FF accounts.  It would not be that hard to set up false accounts for people and somehow reroute the miles.  But before I can look into that possibility, I need more info about how this fraudulent account was set up and what activity there has been on it.

Just wondering if anyone has dealt with this before, and what strategies you used to resolve the situation.  I'm looking on flyertalk, etc. but it seems like most of the mileage fraud cases there involve miles being stolen from people's accounts AFTER they were credited.  I haven't seen any situations like this yet -- where a separate account was set up in your name and the miles credited there, and then possibly diverted.


GizmoTX

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Re: FF miles stolen via a fraudulent account setup
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2014, 07:59:21 PM »
Why didn't your travel agent put your FF number on your reservation(s) before ticketing them? This would completely avoid the problem you are having, & often you get perks during your boarding, etc. based on your FF status.

Somebody had to get your flight info to post to the other FF account -- did you discard a boarding pass or any other info with this during your trip? I did this once, & discovered that someone later tried to hack into my FF account. I made my password stronger & never discard any info until home.

Why are you using a travel agent? They're now like stockbrokers; few provide enough value added for what they're charging you. No, you don't get charged a separate fee for their services, but since they do get paid a commission on your ticket, you are probably not getting the best prices. There are a number of good free search engines for flights these days. Not only can you save money, you can automatically get your FF associated with your flights up front.

TerriM

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Re: FF miles stolen via a fraudulent account setup
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2014, 09:13:48 PM »
Apparently travel agents have been known to steal miles:

http://thepointsguy.com/2013/01/frequent-flyer-fraud-are-you-a-victim/

lhamo

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Re: FF miles stolen via a fraudulent account setup
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2014, 09:15:56 PM »
I had given my FF info to the travel agent for previous flights, but they didn't put it on this flight somehow and I forgot to enter it beforehand -- this was during the period when I was working 12-hour days and just had too many details to follow up with. 

We are required to use the travel agent to book work related travel.  I've always been a bit suspicious of this one, to be honest -- they never seem to quote the low fares I can find elsewhere, though sometimes they will adjust when you challenge them.  But the relationship precedes me and is linked to work we do for a big client so not something I can back out of without cause.  Definitely on alert.  I still have the boarding passes for this flight so it is definitely looking like an inside job....

I just went and found the Avianca terms and have notified them firmly that this account was established fraudulently and asked that they suspend it immediately and inform me what follow up steps they are taking to mitigate my damages.  I have the email for their security department now, so hopefully that will help.  Still curious about whether this has affected other people in the past and how they dealt with it, though.  Complicated by the fact that they are headquartered in South America, and I am a US citizen who lives in China.  I've given them all my common email addresses and my US and China residence addresses, and offered to provide whatever proof of identity they need in order to confirm that whoever set up this account in my name was not me.

12k f-ing miles -- I'll get them back if it kills me!


arebelspy

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Re: FF miles stolen via a fraudulent account setup
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2014, 09:23:45 PM »
I flew a trans-pacific flight last spring on United, but since the flight was booked through our local travel agent

Since it was booked through them, tell them you're having trouble getting the miles credited and ask for their help.

Don't accuse them, but I'm betting that if they actually took them but think you don't know, they'll be in a hurry to get it remedied if they can so they aren't found out.  They'll give you the "oh must have been a mistake I took care of it" spin.
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lhamo

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Re: FF miles stolen via a fraudulent account setup
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2014, 09:36:48 PM »
Yeah, that's actually another thing that made me wonder - I did mention it to the agent earlier this week and he was like "oh, I've heard of that happening before let me follow up with United and get it fixed."

We do TONS of business with this guy, as does our client.  And yesterday he quoted a staff person a ridiculously high fare for an upcoming trip -- I found one 1/2 the price for the same rate via a quick kayak search a few minutes later.  Not the first time that has happened.

Ugh.  I hope this isn't the agent because if it is it won't be pretty.

TerriM

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Re: FF miles stolen via a fraudulent account setup
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2014, 09:55:07 PM »
Have you mentioned your concerns to whoever at work chose them?  2x fare cost should be enough to bring up concerns if you're really talking apples to apples flight comparison.

lhamo

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Re: FF miles stolen via a fraudulent account setup
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2014, 05:50:21 AM »
It was the previous director, who is now gone.  Once fairly soon after I started I noted to him that it seemed the fares were unusually high and asked if I could book my own travel, and he consented.  Since then our company travel policy has gotten much stricter, though.  We actually should probably be using the ridiculously bureaucratic and overpriced agent the US offices use, but I didn't want to make that switch.  May have to if it turns out there is monkey business going on with this one, though.

When I originally raised the issue about the price former director didn't really say anything about the reason we used that agent, just that there was a good reason.  It was only this week that I learned that they also service major client, which I am guessing is the reason we use them (80% of the travel we book is related to the work we do for big client). 

Hmmmm.... wonder how this is all going to turn out, on lots of different fronts....