(CNS) – Fraud is likely to blame for a Riverside County resident receiving more than 100 letters from the California Employment Development Department, even though he has no unemployment claims pending, officials said Tuesday in response to a lawmaker’s calls for an audit of the EDD.
“It’s extraordinarily unfortunate that fraudsters tend to become much more active during emergency situations like the current COVID situation, exploiting the very efforts California and all other states are taking to issue benefit payments as quickly as possible to workers,” according to an EDD statement released to City News Service. “The EDD’s investigation team is aware that people are receiving multiple pieces of EDD mail while asserting they have not filed an unemployment claim.”
On Monday, Sen. Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, said a constituent came to her Murrieta office and handed her staff 116 envelopes from EDD, addressed to 33 individuals with addresses in Chula Vista, Sacramento and San Jose.
Several of the envelopes contained debit cards intended for the recipients, none of whom were identified.
“Can we get serious about the absolute disaster that is the EDD?” Melendez said. “Millions of Californians are waiting for their state assistance and have not received anything or even spoken to real people.
“These kinds of actions are unacceptable, and the governor needs to take responsibility to fix EDD that goes beyond a strike team. The taxpayers of this state expect more from their government. It is time for the governor and the majority party of this state to address this EDD crisis and fix the EDD.”
Melendez has been calling for an audit throughout the current legislative session, pointing to problems with how jobless claims have been handled ever since filings began mushrooming amid the coronavirus emergency.
The government public health lockdowns of economic sectors pushed the statewide unemployment rate above 16% earlier this summer.
Problems with EDD mailings have been documented by various sources. ABC7 ran a report in the first week of August revealing how a West Palm Beach, Florida, resident received a dozen letters from EDD, without explanation.
According to the report, the man had no relationship to any of the individuals to whom the letters were addressed.
Melendez proposed a formal audit of EDD before July 1, 2021, and she sought to have the audit requirement included in Assembly Bill 107, introduced as part of the current fiscal year spending package.
The bill, which the Senate approved Monday, would require that EDD officials provide biweekly updates on unemployment filings, including data on “claims paid, those found ineligible and have not been certified,” according to a Senate analysis.
Melendez’s amendment containing the audit provision was rejected.
“Our investigators are working with local, state and federal partners in exposing fraudulent schemes at the core of these multiple claims, developing methods to stop and prevent such claims from being paid, and prosecuting the unscrupulous offenders to the fullest extent of the law,” according to the EDD statement.
The agency requested that anyone who may information about fraudulent claims report it here.