California legislators demand emergency audit of EDD amid reports of fraud

SACRAMENTO, Calif (KGO) -- Some 40 state legislators are calling for an emergency audit of the Employment Development Department to look into the backlog of unemployment claims and alarming reports of fraud and abuse.

The request comes just days after the State Auditor designated the state's management of COVID-19 funds, including unemployment benefits, a high risk issue.

Amy Brooks showed ABC7 News 22 pieces of mail she received to her home from the EDD with three debit cards belonging to others she doesn't know.

RELATED: California unemployment website crashing? Here's the best time to use the EDD website and other questions

"Not only did it have somebody else's name with my address, but it also has somebody else's complete social security number which I thought was appalling," she said.

She's just one of many people 7 On Your Side has reported on in the last few months who received misdirected letters from the EDD.

David Robertson couldn't believe what he saw as well.

Crooks drained nearly $15,000 from his son's EDD card, yet his son's total benefits were capped at around $6,000.

"How does it happen the day after the letter was sent to us," Robertson said. "The letter was dated the 19th and on the 20th that money was gone."

VIDEO: The best time to use California EDD website for unemployment claims
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Loree Levy with the Employment Development Department is answering your questions about unemployment insurance in California plus debit cards, wait times and how to get benefits.

Assembly member Jim Patterson is among those asking the State Auditor for an emergency audit of the EDD.

"I'm insisting that the EDD let us know and the people of California know how deep and wide this problem is," he said.

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

The EDD did not make itself available for an interview Wednesday, but in an email to 7 on Your Side said it is working with state and federal investigators to prosecute the offenders.

"It's extraordinarily unfortunate that fraudsters tend to become much more active during emergency situations like the current COVID situation," the email said.

There have been some reports of strangers showing up at people's doors demanding they hand the debit cards to them.

"To think that somebody would come to our door and possibly break in or barge in and demand this stuff, scares the heck out of me," Brooks said.

"And there's criminals that are benefiting from this to a greater degree that my son was entitled to," Robertson said.

RELATED: Unemployment California: EDD mistakenly pays workers who still have jobs

Assemblyperson Patterson says he fears criminals may have infiltrated our government.

"I'm not going to make the claim that the EDD is an inside job, but I'm getting close. And I'll tell you why. We've got to find out whether or not the ring is inside or outside," he said.

Some have suggested an audit will take too much time and swifter action is needed, but Patterson says an emergency audit would be quicker.

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