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EDD fraud easy to pull off, hard for victims to solve

New IdentityTheft Scam

Authorities busted what they are calling a large fraud ring in Rio Linda, all centered around the state Employment Development Department, or EDD. The home, located along I Street, was the site of a raid by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. The DA said three people are involved in a ring that submitted fake identities in order to obtain EDD benefits. A woman was arrested at the home in Rio Linda. Her husband and another man were already in state prison and in custody in state prison, and the district attorney’s office said they are part of the fraud as well.The suspects allegedly took information from inmates inside the prison and then filing EDD claims on their behalf. At least eight claims, totaling more than $120,000 were filed.This comes months after the Sacramento County DA, along with district attorneys from across the state, referenced a KCRA 3 Investigation announcing a large-scale fraud from inside every jail and prison in California. In some instances, inmates’ names and identities were stolen. In others, the prisoners used stolen identities to file for benefits with EDD under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, or PUA. That program is for freelancers and gig economy workers and requires no verification of employment.KCRA 3 Investigates first exposed the fraud hitting California mailboxes last year. Dozens, hundreds, and in one case, more than a thousand envelopes ended up in mailboxes up and down the state. All of the addresses were correct, but the names were often people who never lived on at the homes. “Sen. Diane Feinstein’s name and social security number were actually awarded EDD benefits,” said former Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness. He says that the fraud is, unfortunately, exceptionally easy.”You’ve got people that have access to an abundance of fake IDs, false IDs, on the dark web,” McGinness said. “And they use those for the purpose of applying for benefits and victimizing other human beings; it’s really, truly, that simple.” He added that the EDD, along with departments across the country shut off fraud safeguards to speed up processes. This essentially opened the door for fraud under the PUA.The Identity Theft Resource Center, a nonprofit that helps consumers who are victims of ID theft, said that this type of fraud is not new. In 2019, they received roughly 19 calls about unemployment fraud or “government identity theft.” That is their average. In 2020, they took in more than 900 calls.”Unfortunately, and I hate to say it, the reality is this is mostly out of an individual’s control,” Eva Velasquez with ITRC said. “If their data’s already been compromised and it’s already in the hands of the thieves, there isn’t a lot that they can do proactively to stop those thieves. It’s really about reacting quickly and reporting the fraud.”Velasquez added that antiquated computer systems and a lack of fraud protection left consumers wide open to possible identity theft. That means, hard as it is to do, consumers need to get hold of EDD to report the fraud. RELATED VIDEO BELOW | EDD call center chaos: Few people getting the answers they needIn addition, you should contact the IRS and Federal Trade Commission in order to flag your social security number as having been compromised. You also need to act quickly if you see anything suspicious. Added to that, your information is rarely used with one unemployment department. If fraudsters applied with your information in California, they likely applied in other states as well. That increased fraud also brings up another big issue: tax bills. EDD sent out millions of tax forms. In the wake of those mailings, KCRA 3 Investigates heard from consumers who got tax bills for unemployment they never received.In the end, it’s up to the consumer to try and solve the ID theft problem. As for the fraud, there may be one glimmer of hope.”I suppose the only silver lining is they do leave a pretty good electronic trail of evidence as to what they’ve done,” McGinness said.

Authorities busted what they are calling a large fraud ring in Rio Linda, all centered around the state Employment Development Department, or EDD.

The home, located along I Street, was the site of a raid by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. The DA said three people are involved in a ring that submitted fake identities in order to obtain EDD benefits.

A woman was arrested at the home in Rio Linda. Her husband and another man were already in state prison and in custody in state prison, and the district attorney’s office said they are part of the fraud as well.

The suspects allegedly took information from inmates inside the prison and then filing EDD claims on their behalf. At least eight claims, totaling more than $120,000 were filed.

This comes months after the Sacramento County DA, along with district attorneys from across the state, referenced a KCRA 3 Investigation announcing a large-scale fraud from inside every jail and prison in California. In some instances, inmates’ names and identities were stolen. In others, the prisoners used stolen identities to file for benefits with EDD under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, or PUA. That program is for freelancers and gig economy workers and requires no verification of employment.

KCRA 3 Investigates first exposed the fraud hitting California mailboxes last year. Dozens, hundreds, and in one case, more than a thousand envelopes ended up in mailboxes up and down the state. All of the addresses were correct, but the names were often people who never lived on at the homes.

“Sen. Diane Feinstein’s name and social security number were actually awarded EDD benefits,” said former Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness.

He says that the fraud is, unfortunately, exceptionally easy.

“You’ve got people that have access to an abundance of fake IDs, false IDs, on the dark web,” McGinness said. “And they use those for the purpose of applying for benefits and victimizing other human beings; it’s really, truly, that simple.”

He added that the EDD, along with departments across the country shut off fraud safeguards to speed up processes. This essentially opened the door for fraud under the PUA.

The Identity Theft Resource Center, a nonprofit that helps consumers who are victims of ID theft, said that this type of fraud is not new. In 2019, they received roughly 19 calls about unemployment fraud or “government identity theft.” That is their average. In 2020, they took in more than 900 calls.

“Unfortunately, and I hate to say it, the reality is this is mostly out of an individual’s control,” Eva Velasquez with ITRC said. “If their data’s already been compromised and it’s already in the hands of the thieves, there isn’t a lot that they can do proactively to stop those thieves. It’s really about reacting quickly and reporting the fraud.”

Velasquez added that antiquated computer systems and a lack of fraud protection left consumers wide open to possible identity theft.

That means, hard as it is to do, consumers need to get hold of EDD to report the fraud.

RELATED VIDEO BELOW | EDD call center chaos: Few people getting the answers they need

In addition, you should contact the IRS and Federal Trade Commission in order to flag your social security number as having been compromised. You also need to act quickly if you see anything suspicious. Added to that, your information is rarely used with one unemployment department. If fraudsters applied with your information in California, they likely applied in other states as well.

That increased fraud also brings up another big issue: tax bills. EDD sent out millions of tax forms. In the wake of those mailings, KCRA 3 Investigates heard from consumers who got tax bills for unemployment they never received.

In the end, it’s up to the consumer to try and solve the ID theft problem. As for the fraud, there may be one glimmer of hope.

“I suppose the only silver lining is they do leave a pretty good electronic trail of evidence as to what they’ve done,” McGinness said.

Source: on 2021-03-23 23:09:30

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