According to a newly-unsealed federal criminal complaint, a former employee for California's Employment Development Department (EDD), the state's unemployment agency, allegedly engaged in fraud.
Andrea Gervais, the former employee, allegedly used Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) name to apply for unemployment benefits through the EDD, POLITICO reported.
The information came to light after a bank employee noticed a deposit for $21,000 in the senator's name. The investigation revealed Gervasis allegedly filed $2.1 million in claims. Of those claims, she allegedly received $216,000 from roughly a dozen claims.
This is not the first time the Employment Development Department agency has struggled with fraud. In fact, inmates in the Golden State were part of a $1 billion scheme to claim unemployment because of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
"A multi-agency investigation found that 35,000 unemployment claims were filed in the name of California state prison inmates between March and August, including that of convicted murderer Scott Peterson, and that at least 20,000 had been paid out, said Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert," POLITICO reported in late November.
The inmate's scheme is likely to be the state's largest fraud case, at least as it relates to government agencies. But it is not the first time – and it probably will not be the last time – the agency has fallen victim to fraud.
In fact, Rapper Fontrell Antonio Baines, who goes by the stage name Nuke Bizzle, in a music video bragged about allegedly obtaining roughly $1.2 million in unemployment funds.
According to the New York Times, Baines bragged about his "swagger for the EDD," at which point he held up multiple envelopes from the unemployment agency. He also referenced his ability to get rich by going “to the bank with a stack of these.”
He was able to obtain the funds because of the additional unemployment funding Congress agreed to earlier in March during the CARES Act,
Baines reportedly used stolen identities to obtain the cash, which was found distributed between 92 debit cards that were mailed to various addresses in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles' Koreatown.
In another instance, a San Diego woman was caught conspiring to engage in unemployment fraud to help her boyfriend who is serving a 94-year sentence for murder.
The worst part of these cases: so many Californians have struggled to obtain unemployment benefits yet inmates can con the system into sending them hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of dollars.