“Travel Hacking” or Fraud? Air Canada Sues a Pilot for Misusing Promo Codes

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Pilot Pleads Guilty to Fraud and Is Sued by Air Canada

Pilot Pleads Guilty to Fraud and Is Sued by Air Canada

We’ve all heard stories of people using promo codes supplied by others. Sometimes using a promo code that’s not intended for you can get you into trouble. Mark Anthony Tacchi, a Cathay Dragon Pilot, was sued by Air Canada and ordered to pay more than $36,000 for taking advantage of a promotion code not intended for him and in a manner not intended.

Basically, he obtained a promotion code from an “insider” that was intended to be used as part of a mystery shopper program for Air Canada. The 50% discount code was to be used by Sensors Quality Management (mystery shopping company) to provide discounts to “mystery shoppers” who provided an evaluation once they completed flight evaluations and other tasks. Tacchi, used the code multiple times to receive discounts for himself as well as his family. In one instance, he even charged someone $400 to use the code. He also racked up over $500 in frequent flyer miles.

A Canadian Court ordered Tacchi to provide restitition to Air Canada for over $36,000. Additionally, Tacchi plead guilty to fraudulently obtaining transportation.

This reminds me of an extreme case of using someone else’s offer to obtain a certain sign-up bonus or other promotion. While I definitely think it’s different and probably doesn’t constitute fraud, I think it’s important for us to consider the risks.

Potential Risks

Denial of Benefit

First, if you take advantage of a promotion in a manner not intended, you could be denied the benefit of the promotion. Maybe you get charged the amount you saved, or your order gets cancelled. We all know a thing or two about cancelled orders. Sometimes, if you apply for a credit card offer not intended for you and subsequently complete the minimum spend, you could be denied the sign-up bonus. That’s a bummer! Here’s an article about Amex clawbacks for example.

Review or Frozen Account

If a company suspects you of taking advantage or violating it’s terms, your account may get frozen or flagged for review. There are many instances where people’s credit card rewards have been frozen for long periods of time because they were suspected of misusing the program. Other times, Issuers may take back points that they issued to you.

Removal or Ban

Account closures are pretty severe, but it does happen. In this article, Mark describes how he got banned from a popular retailer for his use of promo codes. Once you get banned or removed, it’s pretty hard to get back in.

Conclusion

Consider the risks of what you’re doing and always consider the source of your information. For example, if you highly value your Amex accounts and don’t want to tarnish your relationship with them, don’t use links supplied to others to get better sign-up bonuses. Instead, call Amex and ask if they’d match it, or simply accept a lower amount- it’s better to have less points than none at all.

If you see a promo code from a source you don’t know, try to verify it. My last piece of advice is to use common sense, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

HT: The Gate

 

 


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