S. passes along an article about CipherCracks, an individual online selling stolen miles dirt cheap.
Dark net marketplaces like Agora and Evolution (where CipherCracks plies his trade) are known mostly for selling drugs, guns and counterfeit money. You can also find bomb materials, porn and hacked credit cards. But CipherCracks is proof that there are also more mundane things for sale on these illicit sites, which attract sellers who want to remain anonymous.
The piece says he deals in “SouthWest, Delta, American, and United” although here’s his ad on reddit for Hilton HHonors points where he notes that American miles are ‘temporarily unavailable’ (perhaps their fraud detection got too good).
Apparently this guy sells points from hacked Gamestop accounts, too. And porn.
Here’s How it Works
What’s being sold are airline accounts that have been “load[ed up] with stolen miles from other people’s frequent flier accounts.” Buyers get the account’s user name and password, and are advised to use the miles for gift cards mostly and not for airfare.
If you buy airline tickets with the stolen miles, you give your real name and you’re usually redeeming for something in the future, which means your redemption may be cancelled. And you may get caught. And they know exactly where you will be, boarding a specific flight at a specific airport at a specific time.
When Priority Club (now IHG Rewards Club) had a glitch that allowed members to mine almost an unlimited number of points for their accounts via web scripts, those who made out the best before getting their accounts shut down redeemed the points instantly — for electronic gift cards, that were then used immediately for merchandise. Naturally those making hotel bookings in the future with their points had those reservations cancelled. Even those using the points to book airline tickets had the tickets cancelled.
Here’s How Cheap the Miles Are, But..
Selling miles through brokers, a practice I recommend against, you may get about a a penny a point for your miles. These are legitimately your miles you’re giving access to.
In contrast, stolen miles scams value miles at much less — perhaps as little as 1/25th of a cent per mile.
CipherCracks sells 750,000 miles for just $300. Shoppers get a drop-down menu and can buy between 50,000 and 1 million miles, and pay in bitcoin.
Despite the low low prices, don’t expect to be able to arbitrage between buying stolen miles on the darknet and selling them to brokers. As the article mentions, brokers are loathe to touch these miles since it’s too risky, brokers don’t want the increased risk of having their flying clients’ tickets cancelled. The miles just aren’t worth enough to them.
Anyway, this exists.
- Here’s Why Airlines and Hotels Won’t Let You Sell Your Points
- What Causes Your Frequent Flyer Account to Get Audited, and How to Respond if it Does
- How Airlines Find Fraudulent Bookings