San Mateo County first to sound alarm on EDD inmate scam

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SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – The investigation into thousands of fraudulent unemployment claims made by California inmates continues tonight.   

San Mateo County was the first to sound the alarm on the scam.

According to the San Mateo County District Attorney, back in July, an investigator was listening to a recorded jail phone call related to a drug case, and that’s when he heard the inmate talking about the EDD scam he was hoping to get in on.

“Unlike some investigators who would’ve said “oh this isn’t my case”… he didn’t, Jordan Boyd followed through and that’s what broke it for the entire state,” said San Mateo County District Attorney Steven Wagstaffe.

He says the scam was like a quickly spreading virus.

In July the county notified other jails and the State Department of Corrections. It soon became clear this wasn’t just a few cases.

“It’s quite a variety– some people are very low level to four people who we have charged — two of whom who have plead guilty who were charged with murder, convicted with murder.”

In all, 22 people have been charged in San Mateo County with conspiracy to commit EDD fraud.

Sixteen were current inmates, six others were former inmates helping from the outside.

Every one of them had been receiving payments that they believe accoutns for a quarter million to a half a million dollars in fraud. 

“In our county, it was always done by EDD doing a direct deposit into an account.”

The penalty is three years in state prison, but that punishment could vary.

Those who are sent to prison will be ordered to pay restitution out of the funds their paid through their work program.

EDD sent out a statement saying it’s been working on cross matches with inmate populations to identify suspect claims.

The department is also pursuing how to integrate such crossmatches moving forward as part of enhanced prevention.

This investigation is still ongoing. The district attorney in san mateo county believes another three dozen people may be potentially involved here. 

Below is the full EDD statement:

“EDD has been working with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General (DOL OIG) on cross-matches with inmate populations to identify suspect claims.  We’re also pursuing how to integrate such cross-matches moving forward as part of enhanced prevention efforts during this unprecedented time of pandemic-related unemployment fraud across the country.  In addition, EDD is working collaboratively with state cyber-security experts.”

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