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California COVID-19 benefits fraud could reach $9.8 billion

Posted at 8:48 AM, Jan 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-16 11:48:31-05

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California may have paid out nearly $10 billion in phony coronavirus unemployment claims — more than double the previous estimate — with some money going to organized crime in Russia, China and other countries.

That's according to the head of a security firm hired by California's Employment Development Department to investigate. Blake Hall tells the Los Angeles Times that at least 10% of claims submitted to the agency before controls were installed last fall may be fraudulent.

The money was intended for people who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state has acknowledged hundreds of of millions of dollars went to crooks.