Caixa freezes ‘hundreds of thousands’ of suspect emergency salary accounts

Brazil freezes ‘thousands’ of suspect emergency salary accounts
Photo: Brenda Rocha

Pedro Guimarães, chairman of public bank Caixa, announced on Tuesday that “hundreds of thousands” of bank accounts receiving the federal government’s coronavirus emergency salary have been suspended due to suspected fraud.

Mr. Guimarães told website InfoMoney that around 5 percent of accounts receiving the benefit nationwide were blocked due to fraud concerns. Users that had their account wrongfully blocked can present their personal information to one of Caixa’s branches to request it be unblocked. The emergency salary program — instituted by the Brazilian government to offset financial losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic — has been linked with numerous fraud attempts since its inception.

In June, the Comptroller General’s Office (CGU) had already recovered BRL 42 million (USD 7.68 million) in wrongful payments made to fraudulent accounts, while total fraud figures are expected to be much higher.

As previously covered by The Brazilian Report, government miscues managing the emergency payment have played a role in millions of Brazilians inadequately receiving the BRL 600 (USD 115.64) monthly salary, while many who are eligible still await Caixa’s approval.

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