SACRAMENTO – On November 24, 2020, nine local district attorneys throughout California went public with evidence of mass fraud involving federal, state, and county inmates who have scammed an estimated $1 billion in fraudulent Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims. This comes after months of backlog within the Employment Development Department (EDD) and previous struggles with fraud affecting an estimated 350,000 Californians’ Bank of America UI debit cards, which EDD has failed to rectify despite many opportunities to do so.
“This is completely unacceptable and not the first time the EDD has failed the people of California.” Said Assemblywoman Megan Dahle (R-Bieber), who represents Lassen County and whose district attorney, S. Melyssah Rios, serves as a Team Leader on the EDD Fraud Task Force. “It is imperative that those who have perpetrated these crimes be held accountable, and I stand in full support of our local district attorneys in calling for an immediate investigation of this issue.
“Since late March when California shut down businesses and schools to slow the spread of COVID-19, my staff has helped thousands of constituents who were unable to secure their unemployment insurance from an overwhelmed and backlogged EDD. EDD has blamed their computers, lack of staff, and been given multiple opportunities for improvement, even halting claims processing for a two-week period for a system ‘reset.’ All to no avail.
“The EDD has sunken to new levels of ineptitude when death row murderers are getting their UI claims processed while hard-working Californians who are owed their benefits get denied. It is time for the legislature to step in and hold immediate investigative hearings to determine what went wrong and ensure this never happens again. Clearly, the EDD is incapable of rectifying their system, and Californians deserve better.”
In their letter to Governor Newsom, the district attorneys called for immediate investigation and prosecution of those responsible, outlining steps that ought to be taken to remedy this crisis.
Assemblywoman Megan Dahle represents the 1st Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes portions of Butte and Placer counties, along with Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, and Siskiyou counties.