Last year I wrote what to do if your frequent flyer account gets audited.
Here’s a link to a series of presentations on fraud from an airline’s perspective.
In particular, reading through a 2011 powerpoint presentation from American Airlines, here are things they look for:
- Same email address and/or telephone number used on multiple frequent flyer accounts
- Booking of last-minute award travel
- Change to travel dates shortly after the ticket is issued
- Origination/destination not same as the program member’s address on file
- Confirmation email address does not match program member’s email address on file
- Logging into several frequent flyer accounts from the same IP address
These things don’t inherently signal fraud, often phone numbers will be the same within a family (but do the addresses match?). But they’re still flags for the airline. Last minute travel is sometimes the best value for miles, and can help someone out in an emergency situation (like a funeral).
Flying between cities that aren’t my home address on the account is something I do all the time, but if you’re gifting tickets to people In other cities those can be tickets you’ve sold through a broker.
Consequences for selling tickets through a broker can include:
If an authorized travel agency is involved in brokering FF mileage credits and/or mileage award tickets, your carrier might explore whether a debit memo is a remedy
Termination of the authorized travel agency’s appointment with your airline if appropriate
Litigation with FF Brokers (including authorized travel agencies) may be a remedy
FF Members using award tickets and/or upgrade awards sold, purchased and/or bartered might be penalized as allowed under your airline program
Termination of employment if an employee of your airline is involved with FF Abuse
Confiscation of FF award tickets when FF Abuse has been identified
In general criminal prosecution isn’t an option unless there’s actual fraud, it isn’t illegal to sell miles, it’s only generally against the terms and conditions of a program and you can have tickets cancelled, miles forfeited, and accounts closed.