Velocity accounts being suspended due to suspect points transfers

By David Flynn , September 28 2016
Velocity accounts being suspended due to suspect points transfers

Members of Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer program are being caught in the net as Velocity sweeps its database to uncover points being transferred to people other than a member's immediate family.

Australian Business Traveller has learned of over two dozen frequent flyers whose accounts have been suspended and their points balance frozen across the past week, pending further investigation by Velocity.

Letters sent by email to the affected members state that Velocity "has detected unusual activity in relation to the Account … we believe that the activity may amount to a breach of the Velocity Frequent Flyer Terms and Conditions (Membership Terms) and have suspended the Account while the matter is investigated in accordance with section 8.1 of the Membership Terms."

When contacted by Australian Business Traveller, most members with suspended accounts admitted to having made or received a transfer of frequent flyer points with somebody other than an ‘eligible family member’ as defined by Velocity – although in two cases members claimed those transfers took place between two and three years ago.

Points for sale

In several instances money as well as points has changed hands, with some members selling excess points and others buying points to apply for an award seat or upgrade.

Velocity and Qantas frequent flyer points are often offered for sale through trading websites such as Gumtree and OzBargain.

While Velocity allows up to 400,000 frequent flyer points to be transferred between family members each year, the program strictly defines ‘eligible family members’ as

  • husband/wife/domestic partner/de facto
  • parent/child
  • brother/sister
  • grandparent/grandchild
  • son/daughter-in-law, brother/sister-in-law, father/mother-in-law
  • uncle/aunt, nephew/niece, first cousin
  • "or any foster, step or adopted relationship in any of these categories"

Velocity also provides for ‘family pooling’ through which frequent flyer points and status credits earned by up to five family members living at the same address can be funnelled into the account of a sixth family member.

It’s understood that both family transfers and family pooling mechanisms have been used by suspended members.

No sudden crackdown, says Velocity

A spokesperson for Velocity Frequent Flyer asserted that there has been no sudden crackdown on questionable points transfers, but rather that the company was continuing its diligence in monitoring points transfers “to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions.” 

The sweep appears to target not only Velocity members who have transferred points outside their ‘family’ but also the recipients of those points, and in turn others to whom that second person may have sent or received points.

However, in what appears to be a domino effect, the accounts of people related to suspended members are in some instances also being suspended – ranging from in-laws to children – even if those accounts have never recorded a transaction.

Several holders of suspended accounts are now being asked to provide a statutory declaration affirming their relationship with people to whom they have sent or received points.

According to the federal government’s Attorney-General’s Department “If you intentionally make a false statement in a statutory declaration you can be charged with a criminal offence which carries the possibility of up to four years imprisonment.”

Australian Business Traveller understands that Velocity is now assessing the activity of each account on a per-case basis, and continuing to join the dots between members exchanging points beyond the scope of their ‘family’, before contacting suspended members to advise if their account will be re-opened, or be closed and all points forfeited.

Connect with other business travellers in our Virgin Australia discussion group

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Sep 2011

Total posts 85

Statutory Declarations??!!! Ho ho ho! There are now so many classes of people who can witness statutory declarations it's not hard to make one up and have it falsely witnessed as well. I have a friend who's done it several times and expects never to be caught out

And people wonder why nobody has any respect for themselves or others.  Of course you can probably get away with it.  I suppose you are relying on the sign-off of the aircraft mechanic fitting a new part that he actually did it and it was the correct and genuine part.  I guess if he is lying we will never hear back from you to complain.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Sep 2011

Total posts 85

I'd take that chance as there's a significantly higher risk that he would get caught doing that than if he was using dodgy statutory declarations. All you have to do is apply probability to work out the risks, it's not that hard

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2404

RTWFF: there's a good chance that your friend is a doofus.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

07 Feb 2013

Total posts 558

So your friend has no integrity, good for him. The way you boast about it says a lot about yourself also.

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 332

When you break the rules, you run the risk. It looks like it has caught up with some people. You win some, you lose some.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 350

RTWFF....that sort of behavior has a way of catching up with you.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Sep 2011

Total posts 85

Indeed - the banks woke up to the fact that relying on a signature on a credit card was a sure-fire way of getting ripped off years ago. It certainly caught up with them. It didn't catch up quite so much with those who actually used credit cards "improperly". How often have you broken the speed limit and not got caught, to take another example?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

07 Feb 2013

Total posts 558

You're embarrassing yourself now, good try though.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Sep 2011

Total posts 85

I guess you're not that familiar with Graham's Hierarchy of Disagreement

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Dec 2015

Total posts 30

This feels like the sort of situation where Velocity would put up with a bit of it but some subset of muppets has decided to over do it and cause some blow back. Sort of like how its inevitable that Cairns will cause the dress policy to eventually be more rigorously implemented in the lounge.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 446

You can imagine that non-compliant points transfers occur at different levels, starting at helping out a friend all the way up to profiting by trading points on sites like gumtree.  No surprise that at some point the airlines are going to intervene.  Plenty of ads on gumtree for buying and selling QF points.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jun 2016

Total posts 9

believe me many of the airlines turn a blind eye to very well known and high tier members allocating their points to people other than family members...

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 263

Presumably Qantas does the same thing?


Does this rule also apply to the direct purchase of seats, or just transfer of points? I am reasonably sure, though not certain, that a colleague of mine used points to take his au pair on a family holiday recently. 


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Velocity accounts being suspended due to suspect points transfers