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Miles for Nothing: How the Government Helped Frequent Fliers Make a Mint
The Wall Street Journal ^ | DECEMBER 7, 2009 | SCOTT MCCARTNEY

Posted on 12/14/2009 10:46:36 AM PST by 1rudeboy

Free Shipping of Coins, Put on Credit Cards, Funds Trip to Tahiti; 'Mr. Pickles' Cleans Up

Enthusiasts of frequent-flier mileage have all kinds of crazy strategies for racking up credits, but few have been as quick and easy as turning coins into miles.

At least several hundred mile-junkies discovered that a free shipping offer on presidential and Native American $1 coins, sold at face value by the U.S. Mint, amounted to printing free frequent-flier miles. Mileage lovers ordered more than $1 million in coins until the Mint started identifying them and cutting them off.

Coin buyers charged the purchases, sold in boxes of 250 coins, to a credit card that offers frequent-flier mile awards, then took the shipments straight to the bank. They then used the coins they deposited to pay their credit-card bills. Their only cost: the car trip to make the deposit.

Richard Baum, a software-company consultant who lives in New Jersey, ordered 15,000 coins. "I never unrolled them," he says. "The UPS guy put them directly in my trunk."

Patricia Hansen, a San Diego retiree who loves to travel, ordered $10,000 in coins from the Mint. "My husband took them to the bank," Ms. Hansen says, and she earned 10,000 miles toward free or upgraded travel.

That's small change compared with what some mile collectors did. The coin program was a popular play on FlyerTalk.com, an online community where frequent travelers and mileage mavens share travel tips and profitable mileage plays. One FlyerTalker, identified by his online moniker, Mr. Pickles, claims to have bought $800,000 in coins. He posted pictures of the loot on FlyerTalk.

He says his largest single deposit was $70,000 in $1 coins. He used several banks and numerous credit cards. He earned enough miles to put him over two million total....

(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Front Page News; Government
KEYWORDS: govwatch; scam

And then I realized . . . like I was shot . . . like I was shot with a diamond . . . a diamond bullet right through my forehead.
And I thought, my God... the genius of that! The genius! The will to do that! Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure.

1 posted on 12/14/2009 10:46:36 AM PST by 1rudeboy
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To: 1rudeboy

I’ve heard of some pretty underhanded or devious ways to make miles, but this one is hands-down the most ingenious I’ve read!


2 posted on 12/14/2009 10:49:04 AM PST by rarestia (Confutatis maledictis, voca me cum benedictis)
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To: rarestia

I knew a few guys that purchased enough AAA traveler checks
on a ‘miles’ credit card to get free trips. IMHO, this would
be easier than lugging the coins around.


3 posted on 12/14/2009 10:56:48 AM PST by updatedscreenname
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To: 1rudeboy

Only Government Bureaucrats have the mental capability to come up with ideas defying common sense while costing the taxpayers billions.

And then the Government Bureaucrats wonder why a majority of the citizens want to terminate their employment.


4 posted on 12/14/2009 11:01:03 AM PST by Presbyterian Reporter
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To: rarestia

I would not call the exploitation of posted, public offers as devious or underhanded. Exploitation of a public offer by a large entity is opportunistic and if abused, perhaps, abusive but not devious.

However, it probably would have never occurred to me to jump on this deal.

But, in my opinion, taking advantage of a stupid person (not a big entity) would be devious and underhanded.


5 posted on 12/14/2009 11:02:29 AM PST by Truth is a Weapon (Truth, it hurts soooo good!)
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To: 1rudeboy

Unintended consequences? What’s that?


6 posted on 12/14/2009 11:10:24 AM PST by denydenydeny (The Left sees taxpayers the way Dr Frankenstein saw the local cemetery; raw material for experiments)
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To: Truth is a Weapon
Exploitation of a public offer by a large entity is opportunistic

Yes, there is always the law of unintended consequences when you offer something new. People will figure some way to bend it to their advantage. It takes a lot of careful though to prevent such loopholes.

Which is one reason the health care bill scares the heck out of me.

7 posted on 12/14/2009 11:11:10 AM PST by Right Wing Assault (The Obama magic is fading.)
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To: 1rudeboy

Sounds like everybody made money on this one.


8 posted on 12/14/2009 11:29:32 AM PST by Toddsterpatriot (Math is hard. Harder if you're stupid.)
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To: updatedscreenname
I knew a few guys that purchased enough AAA traveler checks

Did the same thing with Ibonds about 5 or 6 years ago.

9 posted on 12/14/2009 11:37:17 AM PST by EVO X
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To: Toddsterpatriot
Sounds like everybody made money on this one.

Not exactly.

The US Mint is probably charged 2% or 3% on each Credit Card transaction.

In effect they are selling the coins for a discount - government accounting at work - making a loss on your money...:^)

10 posted on 12/14/2009 11:55:24 AM PST by az_gila (AZ - need less democrats - one Governor down... more to go.)
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To: az_gila
The US Mint is probably charged 2% or 3% on each Credit Card transaction.

Mint a coin for 20 cents, pay 2 cents to the CC company, pay a few cents for shipping and sell it for $1. Sounds profitable to me. If the stupid coins just sit in the vault at the mint, they're out the 20 cents they cost to produce.

11 posted on 12/14/2009 12:05:22 PM PST by Toddsterpatriot (Math is hard. Harder if you're stupid.)
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To: 1rudeboy

http://www.snopes.com/business/deals/pudding.asp

Anyone remember ‘pudding guy’ who turned 3000 dollars of Healthy Choice pudding into over 1 million miles?


12 posted on 12/14/2009 12:13:05 PM PST by sportutegrl (I was for Sarah Palin before being for Sarah was cool.)
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To: Toddsterpatriot

Yep, UPS was probably thrilled with the extra cargo.


13 posted on 12/14/2009 2:28:09 PM PST by fightinJAG (Mr. President: Why did you appoint a bunch of Communists to your Administration?)
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To: fightinJAG

BUMP!


14 posted on 12/14/2009 7:21:13 PM PST by Publius6961 (…he's not America, he's an employee who hasn't risen to minimal expectations.)
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