Florida man erroneously receives 12 letters from the California EDD

ByRenee Koury KGO logo
Wednesday, August 5, 2020
Florida man receives 12 letters from CA EDD
A Florida man says he received 12 letters from California's EDD, all were addressed to strangers but at his address.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (KGO) -- 7 On Your Side has been reporting for weeks about frustrations with the EDD, thousands of workers still can't get their benefits. Now, a mysterious twist, a man in Florida just received 12 letters from our EDD. Were they unemployment checks?

RELATED: Lawmakers call for accountability for EDD's 'unacceptable' performance

The letters came out of the blue from the California EDD to a man's home in West Palm Beach. They were addressed to complete strangers. So how did this happen? And does it give us a clue about what's gone wrong at EDD?

They all came at once to Barry O'Brien's home. 12 letters from an unfamiliar place: the California EDD.

"I looked at the envelope, I go, what is this?" recounts O'Brien.

FAQ WITH EDD: From getting through on the phone to $600 payments, 7 On Your Side gets your questions answered

He reads the envelope: "State of California EDD..."

He didn't know what that was until he Googled it.

"The first thing that came up on the Google search was your station's stories about it," O'Brien said.

He saw 7 On Your Side's reports and realized these letters could be pretty important -- maybe unemployment checks meant for folks in California.

VIDEO: Unemployed workers share how they got through EDD system to finally receive benefits

"Just keep trying, keep calling, keep on them." Stories of successfully receiving unemployment benefits are trickling in, and workers share their encouragement and tips for success.

"If they are in fact checks, these poor people could be waiting a long time," he said.

But why were they mailed to his home, 3,000 miles from California to four complete strangers?

"Don't know any of these people. I know none of the names," O'Brien said.

He's never lived in California, nor worked in California.

"The last time I was in California was 20 years ago for a radio convention. I miss your city, I like your city," he said.

RELATED: EDD complaints still pouring in as $600 benefit ends this week

Yet he wasn't entirely surprised something like that could happen.

"I live in Florida and we have our own unemployment problems. It's terrible here too," he said.

He didn't want to open the letters, and couldn't forward them to the right people. He thought about mailing the letters back to the EDD.

"And then I thought of all the problems we're having with the unemployment office here in Florida. Well if I do that, it's just gonna go back to the same department and someone gonna go, 'Hey Joe you screwed up on this one' and nobody would know what happened," O'Brien said.

RELATED: EDD applicants find themselves in 'purgatory' without an approval or denial

Instead, he sent them directly to the California Attorney General, along with a complaint form explaining what happened.

And he contacted 7 On Your Side on Facebook. So, we asked the EDD what was going on.

We've yet to hear back. Which leaves us and Barry wondering if there are more out there.

"Do I have the only 12 that went out? Probably not. I could be calling you in three days and say, 'Guess what, I have 50 more of them.'"

VIDEO: 7 On Your Side and experts answer EDD, unemployment benefit questions in town hall

Do you have questions about EDD and your unemployment benefits? 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney and a team of experts are here to help.

And if he's uncovered something big?

"Maybe they'll put up a statue of me in California," he jokes.

Could this mean some folks out there are missing an important notification from EDD, or maybe even a debit card? It also could be some type of fraud. Barry says he thinks it's a mixup in a database. He does get a small unemployment check from Florida.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.