EDD shuts down 350,000 accounts for suspected fraud, but legitimate workers still left with no money

"They're treating me as if I'm a criminal until I prove otherwise."

ByRenee Koury KGO logo
Saturday, October 31, 2020
EDD freezes 350K claims, legitimate workers still without money
Unemployed Californians are left with no benefits as the EDD cuts off 350,000 claims suspected of fraud.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- In a stunning development, the Employment Development Department has shut down 350,000 unemployment claims in an effort to weed out fraud.

But hundreds of valid claims were also shut down, locking legitimate workers out of their payments.

The EDD is now making those honest workers prove they are not one of the scammers. And even when they submit all the required documents, EDD isn't giving their money back.

7 On Your Side told you about Ben Chrimes of San Jose. He was laid off from his job at Levi Stadium when the pandemic hit, and was collecting unemployment -- until: "I went to pay my credit card bill and the card was declined," Chrimes said.

Scammers began using his family's address to file phony unemployment claims - now, the EDD has blocked all benefits to that address... including Ben's. Ben's father, Nick Chrimes, showed us the letters that showed up at their home. "These are all from the EDD," Nick said.

WATCH: EDD mistakenly takes $10,000 from SF man's account in attempt to fight suspected fraud

One San Francisco man had a shock when the EDD clawed back thousands of dollars in benefits -- a mistake stemming from their fight against scammers.

The same thing happened to Britany Slattery in San Diego.

"I had all my money on that card, like, I can't even get food," said Slattery.

Scammers were using her address - and now EDD has blocked all benefits to her house - including Slattery's.

"I just started going nuts. I contacted the governor's office..." she told us.

RELATED: East Bay mom and son left homeless after EDD cut off claim, receive outpouring of support

"I hope it gets resolved in a short time, but I have no way of knowing," said Ben Chrimes.

The EDD says legitimate workers can easily restore their benefits by submitting valid identification. But both Chrimes and Slattery say they provided all required documents - and still can't get their money.

"I gave them six documents to prove who I am," Chrimes said. "The bank was like, 'Nope, your account hasn't been cleared yet.'"

"And the bank is blaming EDD, and EDD is blaming the bank," said Slattery.

RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Insiders say California EDD unemployment benefit scam was get-rich-quick scheme

Both said they uploaded their driver's license, utility bills, W2 forms, bank statements and Social Security cards.

The EDD still won't release their money.

"I tried to log onto my account online and it kept giving me an error," Slattery said.

"I am a legitimate person, I'm not a scammer. 'Well, we don't believe you.' I'm like, okay... " said Chrimes.

"The supervisor said she'd talked to about 100 people that day all with the same issue," Slattery told us. "I get through to the first person, then they send me off to the second person, then the second person has to send me off to the Risk and Development Department... and you don't know when it's gonna get resolved."

RELATED: CA lawmakers grill EDD on system improvements, backlog of unprocessed claims

"That's when they ask me all the questions... like what street did you live on ten years ago, and what were the cross streets. They even go to Google Maps," Slattery said.

Chrimes said Bank of America won't tell him anything about his EDD account. "They're taking the stance that I'm potentially a fraud or scammer. That's the direction of where the phone call goes. They're treating me as if I'm a criminal until I prove otherwise."

We've been asking the EDD why it's taking so long to validate their claims. A spokesperson said only that EDD would look into their cases.

"It's getting to the point where I might not have enough money for basic things -- food, gas," said Chrimes. "I've just had to accept I'm in this canoe, going down this river called the EDD fraud department... and i don't know how long it will take to get there."

"I'm super beyond frustrated right now with everything. It's not even funny," Slattery said.

EDD could not say how many of those 350,000 claims are legitimate - if you are caught in this crackdown, let 7 On Your Side know.

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

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