Caixa Econômica Federal’s president, Pedro Guimarães, admitted in an interview to InfoMoney what digital security experts had already commented for months: “hundreds of thousands” of the bank’s Digital Savings accounts – used to pay for Federal Government Emergency Aid – were fraudulent. As a result, all accounts that have generated suspicion in recent months have ended up blocked.
People who have had their Digital Savings accounts blocked will have to go to a Caixa branch with personal documents to unlock it.
“When the person goes to the agency and shows that it is themselves, we quickly release [access to the account]. If they are not, they will be blocked, because this issue of fraud in this pandemic moment is unacceptable”, Guimarães told InfoMoney . “We have suspended hundreds of thousands of accounts, and at that moment people can already request the unlocking,” he added.
“The heart of the problem”
In order to quickly release Emergency Aid funds to the population affected by the economic effects of the covid-19 pandemic, the Government has decided to waive some security requirements. What generated the thousands of frauds, according to Guimarães, was the possibility of accessing more than one Digital Savings account on the same cell phone.
In addition, the government and Caixa started from the assumption that not all beneficiaries could have an Android or iOS cell phone to carry out operations and, to avoid the need for face-to-face service at branches, the use of multiple accounts per device was released.
“We have evidence that the vast majority [of multiple accounts on one device] were used by hackers. But some honest people have been penalized, “he said.
As a result, the problem of face-to-face service that Caixa wanted to avoid ended up becoming necessary to prove the identity of the beneficiaries. This will be done now at a much more critical moment in the pandemic than we were at the beginning of Emergency Aid registrations.
Caixa did not confirm the exact number of fraudulent accounts, nor the amount of the damage caused to the Government by the theft of Aid funds.