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‘Identity Theft’ Criminals Plundering El Salvador Bitcoin Wallet Funds

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 3 min read
Source: Adobe/iaremenko

The media in El Salvador has reported that some citizens are resorting to “identity theft” in a bid to obtain USD 30 worth of bitcoin (BTC) through the government’s Chivo wallet and app.

The government has attempted to incentivize downloads by offering citizens the funds as a golden hello, after launching Chivo last month. But some unscrupulous individuals have allegedly been stealing others’ identities to register the app in other people’s names, using stolen ID documents to complete the process – allowing them to accrue larger quantities of BTC.

The newspaper El Diario de Hoy’s website reported that “massive” amounts of those who have downloaded the app for the first time in recent days were stunned to discover that their identity documents have already been used to register Chivo accounts.

The media outlet, which is vehemently opposed to the rule of the El Salvador President Nayib Bukele and his Nuevas Ideas Party, claimed that the government’s response to the concerns was “silence.”

The newspaper conceded that “thus far” the exact number of people whose identity has been stolen “through Chivo is not known.” Nor is it known, the media outlet wrote pointedly, “how much the thefts” have cost the government, which has “paid for them using [fiat] USD public funds.”

Another staunch critic of the government and its BTC adoption policies, the El Salvador-based economist Tatiana Marroquín took to Twitter to state that “due to the large number of [identity theft] complaints” leveled at Chivo, she decided to look into whether her own personal data had been registered “without my authorization.”

“I have not downloaded the application on my cell phone, nor have I registered my [ID documents] in any way; but [my account] already appears to be active,” she wrote.

Marroquín added:

“How can I have the least certainty that the [funds] in that wallet is safe if anyone can [steal] my data? How do we protect ourselves from the consequences of someone else using our [ID documents] to handle money and even receive government [funds]?”

Meanwhile, the Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin has taken a swipe at “bitcoin maximalists,” who he claimed should feel “shame” for “uncritically praising” Bukele.

Buterin took to Reddit to write, in the r/cryptocurrency sub:

“Making it mandatory for businesses to accept a specific cryptocurrency is contrary to the ideals of freedom that are supposed to be so important to the crypto space. Additionally, this tactic of pushing BTC to millions of people in El Salvador at the same time with almost no attempt at prior education is reckless, and risks a large number of innocent people getting hacked or scammed.”

And he ended with a barb aimed at Bukele’s many supporters in the international crypto community, writing: 

“Shame on everyone (OK, fine, I’ll call out the main people responsible: Shame on Bitcoin maximalists) who are uncritically praising [Bukele].”

The Ethereum co-founder was writing in response to a post that called the crypto community’s support for Bukele into question, making note of some of the more controversial aspects of the Salvadoran leader’s rule. The original poster claimed that should Bukele turn out to become a “dictator” in all but named it would “definitely bring a bad name to crypto and its community.”
Learn more: 
BitMEX Boss: El Salvador-style Bitcoin Adoption on the Cards for 5 More Nations
Buoyant Bukele Blasts Critics as Bitcoin Price Booms and Salvadorans Buy BTC

Academic Says Bukele’s Bitcoin Mining Test Is ‘Bad Business’
What Are Salvadorans Doing with their USD 30 Bitcoin Giveaways?

Thousands Joined Anti-Bitcoin March in El Salvador, BTC ATM Torched
El Salvador Brings New Global Puzzle – What Is Bitcoin & How To Tax It?