‘Adulterated billet’ scam: learn how to identify and prevent yourself

Most importantly, regardless of the payment method, all the data mentioned above must be spelled correctly. (photo: Pixabay/ Publicity)

Although it is one of the most traditional forms of payment, the bank slip has been the target of scams and forgery. In payments by bank slip alone, an average of R$ 4 billion reais is collected in Brazil every year, according to the Brazilian Federation of Banks (Febraban).

According to the website Reclame Aqui, between January and September 2021 alone, 4,400 complaints were registered against scams involving bank slips. This represents an increase of 42% compared to 2020. Febraban – the last survey in 2016 – also released a balance sheet of the value of fraud with adulterated slips, which totaled R$ 380 million at the time.

How to identify a tampered ticket

To know if a fake boleto, I first need to understand if it’s a real boleto. This is due to the fact that frauds and their “modus operandi” vary greatly. In general, true boletos follow a pattern:

  • Name of the name-issuing bank;

  • The beneficiary’s account number must match the information provided;

  • Company that issued a ticket with the same name as that registered with the CNPJ;

  • Name, CPF and address of the person who will pay without typing errors;

  • Value different from the one informed, even with cents difference.

The economic analyst and CEO of Vallus Capital, Caio Mastrodomnico, explained that it is also important to pay attention to whether there is a commercial relationship with the company that sent the ticket, whether by e-mail or post.

“The first point is to see where the ticket comes from. Identified the commercial relationship, we moved on to the second and most important point of all. When you have the ticket in hand, you need to identify in the name that appears as ‘drawer’, who is the beneficiary of that credit and see if the amount is correct. Now, the third decisive step, trying to make the payment. When you use the barcode, try to pay attention to the information that appears in your bank as a beneficiary, it matches your ticket exactly.”

Most importantly, regardless of the payment method, all the data mentioned above must be spelled correctly. After checking the data, the most used methods of counterfeiting bank slips are:

  • Tampering with the barcode of bills received by the Mail, such as health plan bills and credit card bills. Therefore, prefer, if possible, to withdraw the ticket on official applications and platforms.

  • Malware installed directly on computer/phone: Malware is any software intentionally designed to harm a computer, server, client, or a computer network. Malware fraud is usually like this, when copying the boleto code, the software makes you “copy” the wrong code, and the payment goes to another account. The malware can also steal financial data from the payer.

  • Social engineering: simulates real company accounts by stealing data (such as CNPJ and trade name)

How to protect yourself and what to do if you pay a bill

It is very important to check, repeatedly, all the ticket data. As fraud can also be carried out through malware, it is necessary to keep your computer’s or phone’s antivirus always up to date.

Some additional steps:

  • Do not connect to unknown or public Wi-Fi networks.

  • Read the entire ticket. Tampered documents may have spelling errors and formatting differences.

  • If you suspect a printed slip or invoice delivered by mail, contact the company to confirm the authenticity and delivery of the document

Did you pay the bill and then realized that it was fake? The most important step is to search for the ticket issuing entity. For example, if it was an online purchase, you should look for the store through its means of service.

In the case of a bank slip issuance, you must contact the financial institution. In both cases, it is necessary to have a copy of the fraudulent bank slip and proof of payment.

The lawyer and consumer law specialist, Daniele Avelar, gave some essential tips on what to do in these situations:

“First, you need to contact the bank where you sent the fake boleto payment. As payment can take up to 3 business days, it is still possible to cancel this procedure. But remember that this will only be possible if the payment is still pending. In addition to informing the bank, you need to issue a police report. That’s because having an important police record to try to recover the money. You can try to amicably request a refund of the amount. If the bank or the store refuses to refund the money, file a complaint with the Procon of your state or on consumer.gov.br through the Ministry of Justice. A last alternative is to file a lawsuit to get these amounts refunded. In addition, you can study the possibility of demanding compensation for moral damages”.

Caio also argues that the bank or store is under no obligation to reimburse the money lost by the fake boleto, but even so, it must be warned. “The bank has no obligation to reimburse. Let’s suppose, if you went to make a payment from Claro, and didn’t realize that the beneficiary’s name is ‘Joo da Silva’, the debt is all your responsibility. However, if this happens, in the next minute I need to call the manager and inform him that the ticket was paid in the wrong way. The bank has time to cancel the payment,” he explained.

*internship under the supervision of editor Joo Renato Faria