California unemployment: 5 arrested in suspected South Bay EDD fraud scheme

ByMichael Finney and Randall Yip KGO logo
Friday, December 4, 2020
5 arrested in suspected Bay Area EDD fraud scheme
Sunnyvale police have arrested five people in connection to a suspected EDD fraud ring that could have compromised thousands of EDD accounts -- and millions of dollars.

SUNNYVALE, Calif. (KGO) -- Five suspects accused of cheating more than thousands of Silicon Valley residents of their EDD benefits have been arrested. 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney has witnessed a surge in these suspected schemes for months and has the latest report.

It started with a 911 call about a home burglary. Investigators tell us a trail of evidence led them to their suspects.

RELATED: Bank of America asked why they're draining EDD accounts, leaves questions unanswered

It all began on the 1100 block of Danbury Street in Sunnyvale.

Police say the suspect stole personal identifiable information, including social security information and credit cards along with utility bills and personal checks.

Authorities identified the suspect as 35-year-old George Ramirez of San Jose.

They tracked Ramirez down at the Larkspur Landing Hotel in Sunnyvale.

EXCLUSIVE: Insiders reveal how scammers are stealing millions in CA unemployment benefits

It's a story you'll only see on ABC7 News: More local charges are likely to be filed in an inmate unemployment benefits scam sweeping the country.

"We were just uncovering more and more evidence that we were just following leads, and it led to the next suspect, and the next suspect, and another search, and another search, and it kind of unfolded that way," said Captain Dan Pistor of the Sunnyvale Police Department.

The investigation led to the arrest of four additional suspects.

Four of the five under arrest are on active parole or community supervision.

"We suspect that this fraud ring had the potential or had access to possibly up to a million dollars of EDD funds," said Captain Pistor.

RELATED: 'People need help': As many as 1 in every 3 EDD claims is fraudulent, security firm says

Authorities believe the men are connected to at least 100 victims -- possibly even thousands.

Luis Castillo says someone stole $1,900 dollars directly from his EDD benefits card.

"It makes me angry because a lot of people, they're struggling and now they have no income going to get food, going to pay their bills," Castillo said.

Castillo works in the restaurant industry and has been on and off unemployment as restaurants close, reopen and close again for various reasons.

Authorities say a special unit set up for the holidays, when home burglaries typically increase, broke open this case.

If you think you've been the victim of EDD-related fraud, visit their website.

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

Have a question for Michael and the 7 On Your Side team? Fill out the form HERE!

7OYS's consumer hotline is a free consumer mediation service for those in the San Francisco Bay Area. We assist individuals with consumer-related issues; we cannot assist on cases between businesses, or cases involving family law, criminal matters, landlord/tenant disputes, labor issues, or medical issues. Please review our FAQ here. As a part of our process in assisting you, it is necessary that we contact the company / agency you are writing about. If you do not wish us to contact them, please let us know right away, as it will affect our ability to work on your case.

App users: For a better experience, click here to view the full map in a new window