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Federal authorities have filed charges against three newly uncovered conspiracies that defrauded California's pandemic unemployment benefits system, including a former employee of the Department of Employment Development who was able to swindle more than $200,000 from her employer, including using a claim as the basis for a $1.5 million - one-year - state job offer, government lawyers said. Investigators announced Thursday that federal prosecutors have charged two former employees of the California Department of Employment and Community Development with fraud in the scandal that has affected the state's unemployment benefits system and its workers. A Roseville woman who was released on parole and her husband have been charged in several fraud cases related to unemployment claims in California, a Los Angeles attorney for the U.S. Attorney's Office said. The woman, who was released on parole and is on her way back to her home state of Oregon, is charged with three counts of fraud and one count of money laundering in connection with an investigation by the Bureau of Labor Statistics into a fraud scheme involving the unemployment insurance, a federal agency.
Separately, a grand jury in Fresno on Thursday indicted two former employees of the California Department of Employment and Community Development in connection with mail fraud and identity theft in connection with the filing of false unemployment claims that include more than $1.5 million in state unemployment benefits claims.
According to the indictment, Thomas and Smith are accused of making false claims for unemployment benefits under the guise of barbers and hairdressers. Thomas, a former employee of the California Department of Employment and Community Development, conspired to file fraudulent claims for nearly $300,000 out of work using the names and addresses of his ex-wife and two children, according to a news release from the Fresno County district attorney's office. According to the indictment, he allegedly made false claims for unemployment benefits against his former employer and his wife against her and their children, under the pretext that he was a hairdresser and barber.
The California native was accused by Gervais on his own behalf of cutting the hair of his ex-wife and two of their children, the indictment said. Federal investigators later determined that the charges against her were filed at the same address that they allege connected her to a woman who had worked for the state's employment agency before her 2018 release. At his request, investigators allege that 12 claims totaling $216,000 were paid by the agency, with the proceeds sent to his home in Roseville, a Sacramento suburb. He was later released from the EDD for allegedly altering payment instructions to pay for himself.
No one at the California Department of Employment Development noticed that a fraudster who used Feinstein's name and Social Security number was claiming unemployment benefits and pocketing $21,000.
Bank of America, which issues debit cards for unemployment benefits, noticed that a sitting senator received them and launched an investigation. The allegations of possible fraud were relayed to the states by Bank of America, which has contracts with the state to provide benefits to people with debit cards.
In the past decade, 16 former employees have been convicted of fraud, said Loree Levy, a spokeswoman for the agency. Most recently, in March, authorities announced that a former EDD representative was sentenced to six years in prison for conspiring to receive $887,199 in unemployment benefits in California based on fraudulent claims.
Of the $110 billion in unemployment benefits California paid out in March, 21,000 went to people who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus. In early December, Bank of America said California had probably paid $2 billion of its $10 billion in payroll taxes during the pandemic. This is in addition to the more than $110 billion it has paid this year in unemployment benefits to those who lost their jobs because of CoronaVIRUS.
A new federal program that allows the self-employed to receive benefits has created fertile ground for fraud. The benefits are part of a government-funded program authorized by the CARES Act to help gig workers, independent contractors and others. When you work at Dollar General, your contributions reward you for being included in the compensation and for being included in wellness programs.
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