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“Fraudsters and criminal organizations ripped off California, along with every other state, during one of the worst crises in history – we’re taking aggressive action to return that money to the taxpayers,” said Governor Newsom.

Recovery follows EDD’s recent thwarting of 47,000 potentially fraudulent claims worth up to $560 million

SACRAMENTO – In another major step toward continuing to investigate fraudsters and recover unemployment insurance funds, the California Employment Development Department (EDD) today announced it has recovered $1.1 billion in unemployment insurance funds.

The recovered funds were located on approximately 780,000 inactivated benefit cards. Most of the recovered funds will return to the federal government because the fraudulent claims are from the emergency federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which was the primary target of fraud nationwide.

In July 2021, California hired McGregor Scott as EDD Fraud Special Counsel. Scott aids the state’s work with law enforcement to combat fraud—including supporting state, federal, and local investigations and prosecutions. Working with EDD, he has leveraged his experience to deliver leads and evidence to aid prosecutions and strengthen ongoing investigations.

“We will continue working with law enforcement to put fraudsters behind bars and recover every stolen dollar that we can,” Scott stated.

Today’s billion-dollar recovery furthers the monumental efforts of EDD and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to investigate and prosecute criminals who defrauded federal emergency unemployment benefit programs. Within the past 15 months, ​​total investigations, prosecutions, and dollars seized in the counties reporting information to the state  include:

  • Total investigations – 1,525

  • Arrests – 467

  • Money seized – $3,474,448

  • Convictions – 162

Other actions California has taken to strengthen its fraud fighting include:

  • Stopping over $125 billion in attempted fraud by deploying a new identity verification system, ID.me, in 2020 and partnering with Thomson Reuters to help detect and prevent UI and PUA fraud.

  • Setting up the 1099-G call center to help victims of identity theft deal with any tax related questions—work that answered 24,000 calls. Fraud can be reported by selecting Form 1099G in Ask EDD or calling 1-866-401-2849.

  • Working with Bank of America to issue chip-enabled debit cards that enhance security and to strengthen fraud-prevention strategies.

  • Working with the California Office of Emergency Services Fraud Task Force on over a thousand active investigations, arrests, and prosecutions across California.

  • Creating law enforcement investigative guides and offering technical assistance to law enforcement partners who are working fraud investigation cases.

  • Setting up designated regional contacts for each division of the state and working with any agency that needs assistance with an unemployment insurance fraud case.

  • Continuing to issue consumer scam alerts throughout the pandemic that warn about cell phone and email phishing schemes designed to steal personal information.

EDD runs one of the nation’s largest public benefit systems. Over 20 million people filed over 60 million unemployment, disability insurance, and paid family leave claims over the past decade. EDD prepared, printed and mailed 45 million documents to customers through the most recent fiscal quarters. EDD was mailing nearly 600,000 documents a day during the height of the pandemic.

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