Brazilian woman arrested after taking corpse to sign bank loan: ‘She knew he was dead’

A woman brought her seemingly dead uncle to a bank in Brazil for a loan. Photograph: @realengotv via X

Shock in Brazil after woman is arrested and charged with violating a corpse and attempted theft through fraud

in Rio de Janeiro
First published on 2024 Apr 17

When Érika de Souza Vieira wheeled her lethargic-looking uncle into a Brazilian bank, clerks quickly sensed something was amiss.

“I don’t think he’s well. He doesn’t look well at all,” remarked one distrustful employee as Vieira tried to get her elderly relative to sign off on a 17,000 reais ($3,250) loan.

Paulo Roberto Braga was indeed indisposed. In fact, the 68-year-old appears to have been dead.

Shortly after entering the lender in Rio late on Tuesday with her late uncle, Vieira was arrested and charged with violating a corpse and attempted theft through fraud, according to the Rio newspaper O Dia.

“She knew he was dead … he had been dead for at least two hours,” the investigating officer, Fábio Luiz Souza, told the breakfast news program Bom Dia Rio on Wednesday.

“I have never come across a story like this in 22 years [as a cop],” added Souza, who said visible signs of livor mortis left no doubt as to Braga’s state.

Footage of Vieira’s surreal and macabre alleged attempt to cash in on her relative’s corpse has gone viral on social media, with Brazilians voicing stupefaction at the scene.

At one point in the images – which bank workers began filming after smelling a rat – one suspicious employee comments on Braga’s pallid complexion. “That’s just what he’s like,” Vieira replies, before trying to place a pen in his limp hand once again.

Brazilian journalists shared their viewers’ bewilderment.

“It is just unbelievable. It seems like a wind-up, but this is serious,” the news presenter Leilane Neubarth exclaimed as she told viewers about the scandal on the network GloboNews. “She has gone into the bank with a cadaver – and has tried to get money with a human being who is dead.”

Another journalist, Camila Bomfim, was similarly stunned. “This is the last straw … This goes beyond all limits because there can be no doubt … about the difference between a living person and a dead person,” Bomfim said.

Ana Carla de Souza Correa, a lawyer representing Vieira, insisted it was not. “The facts did not occur as has been narrated. Paulo was alive when he arrived at the bank,” Correa told reporters, claiming there were witnesses who could prove that. “All of this will be cleared up,” the lawyer added. “We believe in Érika’s innocence.”

The police chief Souza said he was also investigating if Vieira was in fact the deceased man’s niece. “Anyone who sees that [footage] can see the person was dead,” he said.

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