A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us a report of a widespread Hilton Honors Gold and Diamond fraud that is taking place in China.
You can access Hilton Honors here.
Here’s the email from the reader:
There are many Chinese sellers selling Hilton old/diamond status invitation codes recently. They are all located in China, and they do have a lot of diamond accounts
All of their accounts had English first name, Chinese last name and an email end with @163.com or @sina.com. They had created these accounts because they are trying to book hotels to different people who had the same last name. So these people can get diamond benefits by using their diamond accounts. They can earn money and points to provide these services.
For example, they had an account which is called “John Wang”, so this “John Wang” account could be used by many other people such as “XXX Wang” or “YYY Wang”, because these people could tell the front desk that their English name is “John”.
Recently, Hilton is giving out gold gift codes to diamond members, some of these sellers had over thousands diamond accounts. They did not get code via emails, so they said they will send email to firstname.lastname@example.org to ask for gift codes, and selling it over the platform like eBay or others.
Please note 99% of these accounts come with English first name, Chinese last name and an email end with @163.com and @sina.com.
Also, all these accounts were already used by different people with different first name but same last name in China. I believe Hilton could check these characteristics easily. This is the best chance for them to catch these accounts as they are going to ask for the gift codes these days.
I know you had a connection with Hilton’s people, are you willing to tell this thing to them? I had tried by myself to tell Hilton about this, but it seems like nobody care about this thing. I could provide more information if you want me to do.
I did forward this reader’s email to the Hilton spokesperson, but we didn’t receive their reply by the time this article was published.
However, I was in touch with a western hotelier in China who told me that all kinds of scams in this market are expected, including the ones that the reader indicated above. They are challenging to stop.
So, what appears to be happening here is that there are sellers in the Chinese market who have thousands of Hilton Honors Gold and Diamond accounts under common Chinese last names with an English first name.
It is not uncommon for people with a non-English first name to have one as a nickname if they deal with foreign nationals or travel overseas.
However, these fraudsters book individual travelers under these accounts under the pretext that they get the elite member benefits while the seller receives the points, which they later likely also sell.
Due to Hilton’s current promotion that allows all Diamond members to gift Gold-status and those with 100 or more nights in 2020 to gift Diamond, there is an influx of these “invitations” available for purchase on a platform that the reader mentioned above.
Hilton allows select members to gift Gold or Diamond:
Not sure if there is a way to identify to a 100% certainty who is the account holder, and if the guest checking is actually using their own account rather than fraudulently using one of these “communal” accounts?
Most loyalty programs don’t require birth dates or other personal information, such as ID numbers. I would be hesitant to give them due to frequent hacks and lax data protection protocols by many companies in the sector, and the prospect of misuse of the data.
I hope that Hilton gets this activity under control in China and other markets where it is possibly prevalent. It could affect the treatment of Gold and Diamond members who legitimately qualify under the T&Cs of the program.