Media in El Salvador have reported that some citizens are resorting to “identity theft” to obtain $30 worth of Bitcoin (BTC) through the government’s Chivo wallet and app.
The government has tried to incentivize downloads by offering citizens the funds as a golden hello after Chivo’s launch last month. But some unscrupulous individuals have allegedly stolen the identities of others to register the app in other people’s names and use stolen identification documents to complete the process – allowing them to amass larger amounts of BTC.
The website of the newspaper El Diario de Hoy reported that “masses” of people who downloaded the app for the first time in recent days were stunned to find that their identity documents had already been used to register Chivo accounts.
The media organ, which vehemently opposes the rule of Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele and his Nuevas Ideas party, claimed that the government’s response to the concerns was “silence.”
The newspaper acknowledged that “until now” the exact number of people whose identities “were stolen by Chivo is not known.” Nor is it known, the newspaper wrote”how much the thefts” have cost the government, which “paid for them with public money in [fiat] USD.”
Another staunch critic of the government and its BTC implementation policy, El Salvador-based economist Tatiana Marroquín, said on Twitter that “due to the large number of [identity theft] complaints” made against Chivo, she had decided to check whether her own personal data had been registered “without my authorization.”
“I have not downloaded the application to my phone, nor have I registered my [ID documents] in any way; but [my account] appears to be active already,” she wrote.
“How can I have even the slightest certainty that the [money] in this wallet is safe if anyone can [steal] my data? How can we protect ourselves from the consequences if someone else uses our [identification documents] to handle money and even receive government [funds]?”
Meanwhile, Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin took a swipe at “Bitcoin maximalists,” who he said should be “ashamed of themselves” for “uncritically praising” Bukele.
Buterin wrote on Reddit in the r/cryptocurrency subforum:
“Making it mandatory for companies to accept a particular cryptocurrency goes against the ideals of freedom that are supposedly so important to the crypto space. Moreover, this tactic of providing BTC to millions of people in El Salvador simultaneously and almost without prior education is reckless and risks hacking or scamming large numbers of innocent people.”
And he ended with a side swipe at Bukele’s many supporters in the international crypto community, writing:
“Shame on all (OK, fine, I’ll name the main culprits: Shame on Bitcoin maximalists) who uncritically praise [Bukele].”
The Ethereum co-founder was responding to a post that questioned the crypto community’s support for Bukele and pointed out some of the more controversial aspects of the Salvadoran leader’s reign. The original poster claimed that Bukele, should he prove to be a “dictator,” would “definitely bring a bad name to the crypto community.”