State says it’s still getting a handle on unemployment fraud
The California Employment Development Department said Feb. 18 that it is still working through possible fraud cases after the agency identified 1.4 million unemployment benefit claims that needed additional verification.
Out of the 1.4 claims suspended towards the end of 2020, 1.1 million people were directed to verify their identity with ID.me and Thomson Reuters. About 409,000 of them have verified their identities, while approximately 454,000 people never opened the email directing them to verify their identity. Another 10,000 people have started the process, but haven’t finished it, while 71,000 gave up or couldn’t verify their identities and 67,000 claims are either known or suspected fraud.
About 130 people have been arrested for making fraudulent EDD claims so far.
The EDD believes it may have paid out tens of billions in fraudulent benefits. The agency reported in January that at least 10% and possibly up to 27% of all unemployment benefits paid during the pandemic were fraudulent.
The department has processed more than 20 million unemployment claims since the pandemic began, and in a press call on Feb. 18, EDD Director Rita Saenz said the department has hired additional staff members to help the department deal with the case load, as well as brought on additional measures to identify and prevent fraud and put new protocols in place to hold the EDD accountable moving forward.
“The EDD must implement increased accountability into its foundation and culture,” Saenz said.
During the call, Saenz also announced additional resources to help Californians who have filed for unemployment this year file their taxes correctly and said EDD agents are being trained on how to assist state residents who call with questions.