If you want a discount on your next flight or hotel reservation, or maybe an upgrade to business class, you might try looking in unexpected places. Who would have thought frequent flyer miles could be purchased on the Dark Web?
There’s a first time for everything and, yes, there is a black market for air miles – Dream Market, Olympus Market and Berlusconi Market. Aren’t drugs profitable anymore? Or maybe hackers are bored and trying to expand operations. Points can be reclaimed through gift cards, and identification is rarely required, which makes it very easy for criminals to further use.
In August, researchers from CompariTech came across a list on the marketplace and researched to see how much they’re actually worth. Rewards from more than a dozen airline programs, including Emirates Skywards, SkyMiles and Asia Miles, were on sale “at a fraction of the cost,” with prices based on Bitcoin or Monero. The minimum purchase is for 100,000 points at a fluctuating price of $884, the company explained in a blog.
Delta SkyMiles and British Airways are the most prevalent, but “prices are not consistent across vendors and seem to be based more on the vendor’s preference than supply and demand.”
Regarding modus operandi, CompariTech writes that the points were probably collected by hacking users’ personal accounts through either phishing or hacking the data servers. They are basically selling hacked accounts on the Dark Web, which appears to be the most cost effective method. More details and the full research can be read on their blog.