LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The state is spending millions of dollars with tech companies to try to stop unemployment fraud at the California Department of Employment Development, but some crooks could use a pre-Internet method to outsmart the system.
Sources recently told CBS Los Angeles investigative reporter David Goldstein that faxes are coming in quickly and furiously since the latest stimulus package extended unemployment benefits.
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The obtained faxes show complaints from area codes across the country with people searching for checks claiming to be out of work in California. There was a fax of area code 240 in Maryland, area code 617 in Boston, area code 615 in Nashville and even an area code 876 in Jamaica.
And while it’s not illegal to collect unemployment if you move to another state and legitimately lose your job in California, experts said the large number of faxes received is a telltale sign of potential fraud. .
Blake Hall, founder of ID.me, said sending information by fax seemed like a way to bypass his company’s identity verification process. The previously signed state a multi-million dollar contract with the company to verify the identity of filers in an effort to reduce fraud.
But now it looks like the crooks have found another way to bypass the backup.
“If they realize that I can fax something or that I can use the email channel, and the ID.me verification isn’t there, then they’re still looking for a process that can cheat the. State, âHall said. âIt’s the weak link in the chain, so to speak.
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Documents obtained by CBSLA also showed that people living in California could try to scam the system by fax, including a person named Xavier who twice filed an area code 323 – once to make a claim for an unemployed person from 108 years old born in 1913.
âThe crooks know that California EDD has been a target of opportunity to say the least, so I’m not surprised they try,â said assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno.
Patterson sits on a committee that oversees EDD and has criticized the processing of fraudulent claims by the department – now estimated at over $ 11 billion – and the long delays that legitimate applicants faced when attempting to certify.
âI hope EDD learned the lesson from last year and catches up with them and denies these claims,â he said.
A spokesperson for EDD said that while faxed claims do not go through the ID.me verification process, they do go through some sort of fraud filtering.
And while it is difficult to say how much fraud is perpetrated by the fax scam alone, it is estimated that up to 10% of benefits paid have been fraudulent.