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21/10/2008 – Mail From United Airlines That I Wish Was True : New Scam To Steal Frequent Flyer Miles
This morning I went to my PO Box to pick up my mail. My mail had the usual bills, a few catalogs and an envelope from United Airlines.
Inside the envelope was a single piece of paper with only the following information, in addition to my name and address
03 Dec 08
Swiss 345 Coach Class
Lv: Lon / Heathrow 600a nonstop Confirmed
Ar: Zurich 835a
04 Dec 08
Swiss 1248 Coach Class
Lv: Zurich 650a nonstop Confirmed
Ar: Stkhlm/Arlanda 915a
05 Dec 08
Lufthansa 3001 Coach Class
Lv: Stkhlm/Arlanda 1005a nonstop Confirmed
Ar: Frankfurt 1215p
06 Dec 08
Lufthansa 3258 Coach Class
Lv: Frankfurt 820a nonstop Confirmed
Ar: Prague 925a
07 Dec 08
Swiss 1485 Coach Class Operated By-Helvetic Airways
Lv: Prague 950a nonstop Confirmed
Ar: Zurich 1110a
07 Dec 08
Swiss 638 Coach Class
Lv: Zurich 1235p nonstop Confirmed
Ar: Paris/DeGaulle 155p
I read this over and at first I said “Great!” Then of course reality set in when I noticed three glaring problems with receiving this itinerary in the mail.
Problem #1 : My frequent flyer number was no where to be found in the info
Problem #2: The itinerary showed no flights getting me to London or home from Paris
Problem #3: This was NOT my itinerary.
Of course the fact that this was not my itinerary should have been “Problem #1” and eliminated problems #2 and #3, but sometimes you have to just say “Hey, maybe they made a mistake and this is mine!”
After a 15-minute call with United Airlines I learned that this reservation was made on the 15th of October. The person who made the reservation had my old address, with a business phone number I have listed in various places online.
When the reservation was made, who ever made it gave incorrect billing information. Despite the incorrect billing information the seats remain “confirmed” without the tickets being issued.
So what is the point in all this? This appears to have been someone’s attempt to steal my frequent flyer miles.
By creating a detailed itinerary and having a ‘billing problem’ whoever made the reservation would then call back in an attempt to get my frequent flyer information. Once they have my frequent flyer information they would call back and attempt to book the flights using my frequent flyer miles.
Anyone doing this would need to travel with my passport right? Wrong!
Flying on a forged boarding pass is not that risky. A flyer can check-in online, create PDFs of the boarding pass, and then insert ‘their name’ on the boarding pass using Photoshop. To be caught doing this would require someone visually scanning the boarding pass to actually read the name on the boarding pass while also reading the name that pops up on the screen to see if they match at the gate.
How often do gate agents read the name on the boarding pass while also looking at the name that pops up on the boarding pass scanner? Almost never.
Luckily for me, while I fly United Airlines often, nearly all my miles are credited to a Europe based Star Alliance airline. Should the person who made this reservation have pressed forward in an attempt to steal my miles they would not have gotten very far. I have used nearly all my United Mileage Plus miles and only have roughly 21,000 miles in my account.
FYI: 21,000 miles won’t even get you an award seat between Washington Dulles (IAD) and Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
I have been in contact with United Airlines. The reservation is cancelled, my information has been flagged and unfortunately I am not spending four days bouncing around Europe.
New scams are created daily, and I am glad United Airlines sent me off this envelope with this itinerary. Without this letter in the mail I would have had no idea someone was created travel itineraries in my name.
For those of you who are known to fly often and rack up a lot of miles, check your accounts once in a while. Make sure all your miles are in your account and no one is trying to take vacations with your hard earned mileage!