The Federal Police (PF) launched this Tuesday, an operation to combat fraud in the Emergency Aid program. 47 search warrants and two preventive arrest warrants were served in 11 states and in the Federal District. One of the search warrants was fulfilled in São Leopoldo, and a cell phone was seized. There is still no further information about the performance of the investigated person from Rio Grande do Sul in the scheme.
Operation Apateones — “fraudsters” in Greek — was coordinated by the Federal Police station in Campinas, in São Paulo. 37 suspects are being investigated for theft crimes through fraud, embezzlement, and criminal organization. The penalties added, can reach more than 22 years of imprisonment. With analyzes of financial intelligence reports and breaches of bank secrecy, the PF estimates that the misappropriated amounts exceed BRL 50 million, in “more than 10,000 accounts”, according to information published on the police website.
The warrants were issued by the 9th Federal Court of Campinas and also covered the states of Goiás, Maranhão, Paraná, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio de Janeiro, Rondônia, São Paulo, and Tocantins. There were also two arrest warrants for Goiânia and Brasília. The blocking of assets and values found on behalf of those investigated was authorized.
Approximately 200 PF agents were in action and seized chips, credit cards, fake CNHs, printers, vehicles, card machines, INSS cards, and electronic devices. In Sorocaba (SP), a couple was arrested in flagrante delicto for the criminal organization – and use of false documents and possession of a restricted weapon, in the case of the man.
According to the Federal Police, the investigation began in August 2020, “based on information sent by Caixa Econômica Federal to the Federal Police in Brasília with data on 91 fraudulent Emergency Aid benefits”. The misappropriated amounts, at the time, totaled R$ 54.6 thousand. They were diverted to two individual and legal entity bank accounts in Indaiatuba, São Paulo. According to the PF, “thousands of other frauds” came to light from then on. The database was assembled based on responses from people who questioned the financial statements of their accounts with Caixa.
The tracking showed that part of those involved in the frauds was in Goiás and Rondônia. The beneficiaries received values from fraudulent Emergency Aid accounts through payment of slips and bank transfers.
One of the prisoners is the creator of the program, which is heavily marketed on the dark web and matches CPFs with social programs to check which ones are eligible to receive the benefit, like Caixa Tem. From there, social engineering begins to obtain other data from people, phones, passwords, and so on, including sending SMS, messages that the person clicks on links that the person is directed to sites where they type the passwords — explained the head of the Campinas police station, Edson Geraldo de Souza, at a press conference.
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The operation was carried out jointly by the Federal Police, the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of Citizenship, Caixa Econômica, the Federal Revenue Service, the Federal Comptroller General’s Office, and the Federal Court of Auditors, in the so-called Integrated Strategy for Action against Fraud in Emergency Aid (Eiafae ).
“The objective of the joint inter-institutional action is the systematic identification of massive frauds and the dismantling of criminal organizations, with the accountability of their members and the recovery of values for the treasury”, says the Federal Police website.