-- A man identified as a former student in Miami, Florida, admitted to stealing over $260,000 worth of airline miles after he obtained personal information of several individuals across the country and used that information to gain access to their American Airlines AAdvantage accounts, according to court documents.
According to an arrest affidavit, Milad Avazdavani, of Miami, admitted to police that he attempted to take over at least six individuals' American Airlines rewards accounts; he then attempted to redeem the miles to purchase trips to Dubai and Fort Lauderdale in addition to renting sports cars.
The alleged thefts mentioned in the affidavit took place between December 2014 and February 2015, according to the affidavit. Miami-Dade Police arrested Avazdavani in March of 2015.
Avazdavani, who is in jail awaiting trial, spoke publicly for the first time in an interview with the Miami Herald published Sunday, insisting he is not stupid enough to use stolen miles to book trips in his own name.
Avazdavani told the Herald he was guilty only of “bargain shopping” for travel deals on the internet, while pointing the finger at "a third party."
Police say Avazdavani admitted to obtaining the personal information of several individuals and using it to change the registered email addresses of their AAdvantage accounts.
Police were alerted to the alleged identity theft after victims were asked by American Airlines to confirm the authenticity of the change on their accounts.
After police searched Avazdavani's residence, police say they discovered credit cards belonging to other individuals and equipment designed to reprogram the magnetic strips of credit cards.
“We encourage our AAdvantage members to contact us immediately if they believe their miles have been used fraudulently,” said American Airlines Spokesman Ross Feinstein. “In this specific case, we assisted law enforcement throughout their investigation. Our corporate security team spoke to each AAdvantage member that was impacted to ensure their mileage was reinstated.”
The airline recommends that members use a strong password, monitor emails from American regarding account activity and keep a close eye on accounts.
Police documents indicate Avazdavani has been charged with multiple felonies, including grand theft and unlawful possession of a credit card.
The attorney listed for Avadzavani did not immediately respond to a request for comment.