About one million Californians who got unemployment payments from the pandemic-related federal benefit program now have to prove they had a prior work history or possibly pay back the money.
State officials blamed nearly all of that fraud on a hastily approved expansion of unemployment benefits by Congress that let people who were self-employed get weekly checks from the government with few safeguards to stop people from getting benefits who were not eligible to receive them.
In California, new coronavirus cases are at their lowest point since the start of the pandemic, schools have fully reopened and the more generous unemployment benefits from the federal government have expired — all signs of what should have been a robust economic recovery in September.
Gov. Newsom signed a law requiring the California prison system to share the names and Social Security numbers of inmates with EDD.
A California inmate and his wife, a nurse, were allegedly part of a scheme that bilked the California EDD for $2 million in fake claims.
Desmond Sylva, 39, was so frustrated about reaching the Employment Development Department to find out why he wasn't getting his unemployment check after being laid off as a Tesla production associate in Fremont, he hired a bot.
After receiving $316 million under the federal CARES Act to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on unhoused people, the California Department of Housing and Community Development “did not take critical steps to ensure those funds promptly benefited that population,” the state auditor’s office said.
State senators and assembly members have already become one of the few ways that unemployed people can get through to EDD. But does the typical Californian know that they can turn to their legislator for help?
As a result of a class action lawsuit, the EDD must now stop its policy of freezing benefits for people whose existing claims have eligibility questions and instead continue sending checks while they investigate the problem.
Federal officials said the two inmates worked from their respective correctional facilities at Kern Valley State Prison and California Correctional Institute in coordination with someone on the outside to submit false unemployment claims.
More than 100 false claims to California’s Employment Development Department netted $1 million for eight people, and five of them also got more than $60,000 that they weren’t due from the Louisiana Workforce Commission, officials said.
Prosecutors allege that the men, who had met in prison, bilked mainly homeless people or transients who were living off Social Security or disability payments by pretending to counsel them.
Two USPS employees, Christian Jeremyah James and Armand Caleb Legardy, pleaded guilty in Los Angeles to federal criminal charges accusing them of unlawfully buying and cashing tens of thousands of dollars' worth of postal money orders with unemployment benefits fraudulently obtained with false claims of COVID-related job losses.
EDD claimants are learning that when a year's worth of claims have been collected, they're terminated unless they jump through a bureaucratic hoop. EDD says it was just a glitch.
Three Inland Empire women were arrested and charged this week for illegally obtaining COVID-related unemployment benefits in names of prison inmates and scamming the California Employment Development Department out of a combined $1.2 million, federal prosecutors allege.
Officials say the state has paid at least $11 billion in benefits to people whose identities it has been unable to verify, which they say is likely fraud. Of that, $810 million was tied to ineligible prisoners.
California State Auditor Elaine Howle said the agency was slow to react to warnings of an increase in fraudulent claims, saying this inaction cost the state billions as criminals exposed weaknesses in the system.
Auditor Elaine Howle told the governor that as a result, more than 800,000 people waited longer than 21 days—EDD's measure of how quickly it should process a claim—to receive their first benefit payments.
Criminal rings stole over $11 billion in unemployment benefits from California last year and nearly $20 billion more is considered suspicious.
California is reporting a surge in coronavirus unemployment claims last week for independent contractors, gig workers and the self-employed — the category of benefits blamed for much of the state’s fraudulent payments.