The scope of California’s COVID unemployment scandal is like the tip of the unseen iceberg. The losses to state taxpayers from a system that has turned out to be ridiculously easy to game are now twice what it was believed to be just days ago. Instead of $1 billion in fraud, the staggering losses could add up to $2 billion. Will it get worse?
As I reported in PJMedia earlier this week, district attorneys from all over California sounded the alarm on the fraud, which is being committed in real-time. They claim that the the Captain Edward Smith in this scenario, Governor Gavin Newsom, has done little to immediately stop it and needs to put full-rudder reverse or sink the state’s finances. They’ve implored him to engage and stop the unprecedented grift.
People have literally watched as the funds drain away from their state-issued unemployment cards by thieves who stole legitimate recipients’ identities. Prisoners — even murderers and rapists — had no problem applying for and receiving the special COVID unemployment benefits. San Quentin death row inmates received $20,000 each out of the COVID unemployment funds. Babies and small children were granted unemployment payments.
No one is checking to see if the recipients are legally able to claim the money. Prisoners are not allowed to receive unemployment benefits but are getting money anyway by using the prison address. And it looks as if people certainly from outside of California — and even outside the country — have gamed the system and stolen money they’re obviously not entitled to. The governor, in fact, instituted a streamlined program to get the money quickly into the hands of recipients, but fail-safes obviously were minimal.
The Bank of America, tasked with implementing the EDD — Employment Development Division — says the program is even worse-off than they knew.
“Our assessment is that there is activity consistent with fraud in those accounts on the order of approximately $2 billion. … We also have detailed instances in which criminals not only withdrew initial funds provided by the State, but sought and received additional ‘temporary’ credit from Bank of America … essentially attempting to double-dip the fraudulent removal of funds.”
That’s right. Not only do thieves rip off the system but they then apply for credit from the B of A.
CBS LA reports that lawmakers are beginning to figure out how they’ll address the scam in their upcoming legislative session.
State Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, said he is beyond exasperated with the seemingly constant stream of problems at EDD.
“I have never seen anything like this in the 20 years I have been in public life,” he said. “Today, our first organizing day of the new legislative session, there are at least a dozen bills, probably more, by Republicans, Democrats, people on the Assembly and Senate side that are basically saying, ‘Here’s how you’re going to get your act together, EDD, and we’re gonna force it by rule of law.”
The San Jose Mercury News reports that doling out the money has apparently slowed up because there’s a backlog growing again of people requesting the special unemployment funds.
At this point no one has confirmed whether the bank paid out the $2 billion or if that is simply how many claims have been made with no payout for the unemployment funds.
One thing’s for sure. Someone might be needing COVID-related unemployment.
The EDD is looking for a new director.
EDD is seeking a new Director. We’re looking for a diplomatic leader with exceptional interpersonal skills, strong ethical commitment, high level of personal integrity, sound judgment, and quality decision-making skills.
— EDD (@CA_EDD) December 1, 2020
Captain Newsom has presided over a $1 billion mask imbroglio, multiple missteps on lockdowns, his own COVID hypocrisy, and now oversees the biggest scam in the history of California, according to a district attorneys group.
I have a feeling the iceberg’s still even bigger than we know.