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
"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
RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
- EDD shuts down 350,000 accounts for suspected fraud, but legitimate workers still left with no money
- Unemployment claims paused for 2 weeks as report reveals 600K awaiting benefits in EDD backlog
- Coronavirus employment recovery will not be equal across Bay Area, new report predicts
- $2.5 million in EDD fraud leads to arrest of 44 suspects in Beverly Hills, police say
- CA begins sending extra $300 per week in unemployment benefits, but many will not receive the supplemental aid
- California lawmakers to conduct emergency audit of EDD
- California woman's stolen information used to collect thousands in unemployment benefits
- Proposed $300 unemployment benefit 'inadequate,' Newsom says CA working on solutions
- California EDD: The most commonly asked questions we get about unemployment and PUA
- California woman shares hack for getting through EDD's overloaded unemployment helpline
- Florida man erroneously receives 12 letters from the California EDD
- California state senators request Newsom create 24-hour helpline for EDD
- Governor Gavin Newsom unveils new task force to tackle EDD backlog
- Out-of-work Californians finally receive benefits, only to be mysteriously cut off
- Unemployed workers share how they got through EDD system to finally receive benefits
- FAQ with EDD: From getting through on the phone to $600 payments, 7 On Your Side gets your questions answered