Australian Frequent Scammer Jailed for Fraud

Australian Frequent Scammer Jailed for Fraud

Without ever setting foot on a plane, Austin Perrott racked up 17.6 million frequent flyer points with airlines around the world, and eventually ended up on a trip to jail.

The former Singapore Airlines customer service supervisor pleaded guilty in the Victorian state County Court to nine counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception after prosecutors said he awarded himself the points between February 1996 and October 2002.

The 45-year-old Melbourne resident took advantage of a computer loophole to steal points from frequent flyer programs at Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Air New Zealand, United Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Finnair.

He ended up with a total of 17.6 million points and cashed in about 4.3 million of them by selling them to family and friends, prosecutors said, while not flying for any miles legitimately.

Judge Roy Punshon said the points Perrott stole were worth 400,000 Australian dollars ($295,000).

Prosecutors said Perrott discovered an irregularity in a computer system in 1996 that allowed him to add a name to a passenger flight list and credit frequent flyer points to the extra passenger.

He set up 29 different accounts to distribute the stolen points with nine airlines to avoid suspicion about the scam.

Air New Zealand detected a possible scam in 2003 and fraud investigators arrested Perrott in March 2003.

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