Fake PDF Statements for Status Matches – Reader Question

Interesting question from reader Kenny in Memphis:

Hi Adam, I live in Memphis and I have a new job that will require me to fly multiple times a week for work. My airline of choice in the past (though there really were no other viable options) has always been Delta/Northwest. With all the recent cuts these last few years, I now find myself having to connect in order to reach my final destination, so I figure why no re-evaluate my relationship with Delta and perhaps earn miles with a program that actually has fair award availability for its members. My top tier status expired in February of last year and I currently have no status. I want to do a straight match instead of a challenge and have written to a few Flyertalk members and other bloggers for advice. Without formally recommending anything too shady, I have heard the word Adobe Acrobat Pro mentioned quite a few times. Is it really just as easy as creating a PDF statement of my current account and then changing my status level? Does anyone check? Can you see if your readers have any experience? Thanks for a response.

Hmm, a few things here…

  1. If Kenny is really planning on flying multiple times per week for work, a status challenge might not be so horrible. The majority of airlines who offer challenges will upgrade status right away, providing all the elite benefits and allowing you to prove yourself worthy to maintain them. Additionally, his status will be legit and he’ll never have to worry about any future account closures.
  2. It’s highly doubtful that United is contacting American, Delta, etc. to confirm status with their competitor. “Hi, we want to confirm that one of your elite members is looking to jump ship to our program, can you verify their status level?” Probably not happening, though it doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t come without some risk. Obviously, providing forged credentials from a partner airline is far riskier. Morally right?

So, BoardingArea readers, what say you with regards to Kenny’s question? Have you ever downloaded that trial version of PDF Pro and made some “enhancements” to your credentials? What was the result? Anyone have a negative outcome to share?

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  1. I have helped a fellow new traveler at my work with gold status by sending him a screenshot of my elite account, he took a screenshot of his regular account and copied the status from mine and pasted them together in paint. It worked, I don’t think they dig into it.

  2. Morally right? I see bunch of ppl on boardingarea or flyertalk demanding their mistake fare tickets be honored. Morally right? Its funny how ppl pick and choose whats rights and wrong.

  3. Forging credentials is definitely risky, not to mention immoral. I don’t understand why the OP isn’t willing to do a challenge, especially if he’s flying a couple of times a week like he mentions. At that pace, it shouldn’t be difficult to end up with status relatively shortly, and, as you mention, many challenges provide status right out of the gate.

    It’s not a winning situation for anybody when his account gets closed out after the airline founds out they’ve been defrauded.

  4. I justify doing this by telling myself that I’m actually going to shift my business and they are getting a new customer. Win win

  5. I don’t even have a PDF Pro. I’ve copied and pasted into a regular word document and had no problem. Nobody checks, they are just looking to get new members who spend $.

  6. Word of caution – I admit to doing this with Marriott back in 2010. Let’s just say I received a call from their audit department in Maryland asking me to explain my credentials. This was after the match already happened. I got lucky in that they only took away the extra bonus points and let me keep my base points. This was after talking to two managers in the department. Originally, they simply locked my account and I could not even log in online. When it came time to check-out of a property I was currently at (using an award), I was told that there was a problem and that I’d have to pay for my stay! Luckily it all worked out in the end but this is a possibility.

  7. I hate to admit it, but I’m with the rest of this sad group. I’ve done it…several times even. Sometimes there are brands that I’m never going to stay at, but have a special trip planned for. If I’m not planning on staying again in the next few years, why not get comp’d to their highest level to get upgraded amenities while on site. I gamed the system and only feel sort of guilty.

  8. So when you can’t get an upgrade do you think that the person that got it instead may well have done this very thing? I’ve never done it. I guess the “status” doesn’t mean that much to me.

  9. Mike – Maybe it’s just me, but I do see a difference between hoping to maybe take advantage of a mistake vs forgery. I guess everybody draws their line somewhere.

  10. Horrible post. What sense of satisfaction do you get from running a theatre and yelling fire. You need to go back to your drawing board and find something of value to contribute to the world………….

    • @JustSaying – Not sure I understand your analogy. This was a reader question and from the comments, it seems like that many readers had something to say about it. Not sure how I’m sounding any alarm…

  11. I admit I have done this too. I stopped flying last year (I was 1k and Diamond in 2012). I was relocated overseas and started flying a lot again.. I did a status match on UA from my expired DL card (just changed the date). I agree it wasn’t morally sound, but I am bringing a lot of cash to UA that I could have spent with American/JAL (which would have been my choice if UA didn’t match). At any rate, I’ve already easily requalified for 1k this year so I think it was a win win.

  12. This is a great way to ensure airlines stop status matching by email altogether. All because people are lying/stealing for their own personal selfish interest.

  13. To call that fraud would be generous, it is outright stealing. No surprise people on Flyertalk suggested it, many of them seem to have no morals or ethics, and you are no better for suggesting it may be a good idea.

    Can you justify stealing an iPod by telling yourself you will buy music off the iTunes store? This is the same thing.

  14. Seems like outright stealing to me. It’s like going over to someone and asking them to repay a loan that you never really lent them. Just because they give you the money does not make it right.

    • This is the type of behavior where a frequent flyer program should just ban the dirtbag for life……end of story…….

  15. And people wonder why airlines are aggressively scaling back their FF programs…their most “loyal” customers are actually frauds.

  16. Lying to get something you’re not entitled to? How can that even be a question?

    If I were an airline executive reading this, I would feel a deep, deep anger. Businesses ban together to catch cheats all the time: Medical Impairment Bulletins from the 1950s come to mind.

    Checking does raise the cost for everyone, but some CEo might read this and respond, “I don’t care what it costs; find them. No status for cheats – ever.”

  17. This is a complete joke right? Some of us “earn” status the right way. The last thing we need is a bunch of clowns in the lounges who never earned it the right way. These are the same goofs that break every rule in the lounge like talking on their cells, taking food out, and then they’ll invite their one guest as well. I’ll say this on behalf of all of the status flyers. Get the heck out dude. You didn’t earn it, you don’t deserve it. This is one reason why there is so much devaluation because Kenny and his friends want to hang with the big dogs when they really should stay at pet store.

  18. @anne, +1

    There’s something to be said to being able to look yourself in the mirror without having to justify something you already know is morally objectionable.

  19. Wow, only wow. They email is bad enough but then almost 50% (did not count exactly) said they did the same.
    Seems like bunch of morally corrupt status whores.
    I am not a lawyer, but theft and fraud come to mind here.
    Enjoy your EXP on AA or 1K with UA that you did not earn and do not deserve

  20. This is a really loaded question, with the petitioner asking you to provide a crowd-sourced justification for outright fraud. It’s also bloody annoying when it took 2 years flying LHR – SYD in Economy (the horror!) to clamber my way up to Gold with Singapore Airlines. There’s always loads of people flashing the various American airlines ff gold cards at SIN and now I’ll just think “cheats!”

  21. Could someone send me a picture of how AccorHotels statement looks like? Or does someone know how to order face membership card and statement?

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