LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) — California paid out $11 billion in bogus jobless claims last year and investigators are looking into possible fraud involving $20 billion more, authorities said Monday.
Between March 2020 and January 16, 2021, the California Employment Development Department (EDD) processed 19.5 million claims and paid out $114 billion in unemployment benefits – roughly 9.7% of which were paid out to fraudulent claims, the agency said.READ MORE: Authorities Searching For 26-Year-Old Inmate Edgar Benitez Who Walked Away From Minimum-Security Fire Camp
EDD also identified that up to an additional 17 percent of payments made during this time have been made to potentially fraudulent claims, which are currently being investigated, officials said.
California processed a record amount of unemployment benefit claims in 2020, primarily driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in more than five times as many unemployment claims in 2020 than in 2010, the worst full year of the Great Recession.READ MORE: Kristine Lazar, CBS2/KCAL9 Investigative Reporter, Takes Home LA Area Emmy Saturday
The agency says EDD processed as many claims within the first eight weeks of the pandemic shut down as it did during all of 2010.
“EDD is now working with some of the country’s most successful fraud prevention businesses and law enforcement agencies to protect the state’s unemployment benefit system,” said California Labor and Workforce Development Agency Secretary Julie Su. “We know that many Californians are waiting on payments, and EDD is working quickly to validate their claims and get their benefits to them.”MORE NEWS: Daniel Williams, 24, Arrested In Connection To Saturday Fatal Double Shooting In Downtown Long Beach
The announcement comes on the heels of multiple CBSLA investigations that found alleged cases of rampant EDD fraud, including involving Bank of America customers who say their accounts were frozen after apparent cases of fraud.