Unemployment California: EDD mistakenly pays workers who still have jobs

HAYWARD, Calif. (KGO) -- Thousands of California workers are still waiting for unemployment benefits. And many say it's impossible to reach anyone at EDD. Now another group is also frustrated... for the opposite reason.

It's the ultimate in lopsided execution. A steady stream of jobless folks are losing their homes, standing in food lines. Running out of savings. And on the other hand, some workers say they're getting benefits they don't deserve.

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7 on Your Side has told you their stories of desperation:

Cesar Ayala of Morgan Hill: "I called 76 times in one day and never got through."

Karin Melampy of Santa Clara: "So I'd call, call, call and I was using speed dial day after day, after day."

James Pacheco of Richmond: "Since March 18, I have no income."

Mario Guliano of Hayward: "And I have depleted my life savings."

Millions of workers suddenly without jobs. Millions still waiting for unemployment benefits.

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But then... this.

Folks like Les Wylie of Hayward.

"Why are they paying me when I'm working full time?"

Les couldn't get EDD to stop paying him benefits -- even though he has a full-time job.

"Basically, we're just trying to return the money," Les said. Les and his wife Catherine have been trying for months to give back money the EDD gave him by mistake. Instead, EDD gave him more money.

"I don't need the unemployment and they just keep adding to it, adding to it, adding to it," said Les.

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Les is painfully aware of how many workers can't get their benefits -- while he sits on a mini pile of riches.

"I've got this treasure chest hidden in the backyard," describes Catherine.

"I'm not touching any of it till I hear from the EDD," says Les.

Les works full time as a candymaker at Annabelle's in Hayward -- makers of the famous "Rocky Road" and "Big Hunk" candy bars. The factory closed when the pandemic hit and Les applied for unemployment. But three days later, Annabelle's was allowed to reopen as "essential."

"Because we are a food product manufacturer that supplies grocery stores," Les explains.

Les went back to work and stopped claiming unemployment.

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So he was surprised when EDD sent him a debit card. Even more surprised, when he saw what was on it.

"I checked the balance it said $4,100 -- I nearly fell out of my socks," he said.

It was the kind of money that actual unemployed workers could only dream of.

And it didn't stop there.

"I called the number on the back of the bank card... now it's $6,200. They keep adding money even though I'm working full time," said Les.

All he wanted was the $178 he was entitled to for those three days he was laid off -- and to give the rest back.

He tried calling EDD, emailing, even sent a certified letter saying: "Stop these payments."

No response.

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"We're trying to give the money back to them so they can pay somebody who does need the money," Les said.

Now that loaded card is like a hot potato.

"I don't want to touch it, 'cause I don't want to be accused of fraud..." he said.

The Wylies contacted 7 On Your Side. We tried to get answers. EDD would only say some workers were automatically re-certified for benefits to speed up the claims process.

Which it did -- but for the wrong guy.

"We're just sorry the people who need it can't get it, and the people who get it don't want it," said Catherine.

EDD did not say how many workers received benefits they're not entitled to. It will be claiming that money back eventually -- it did not say how. We'll keep you posted.

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

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