Tags: unemploymentbenefits | 600payment | fraud | scams

Fraudsters Targeting Unemployment Benefits in California

Fraudsters Targeting Unemployment Benefits in California
(Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Friday, 07 August 2020 05:48 PM

Scammers are stealing unemployment benefits from unsuspecting victims in California, according to The Los Angeles Times.

An official at the California Employment Development Department said the fraud ring responsible for the theft is called “Scattered Canary." The scam is operated by fraudsters from West Africa who use personal data leaked from massive corporate data breaches to apply for fraudulent claims at employment agencies in states across the country.

“Because of suspicious claim activity spotted in UI programs in California and across the country, the EDD is actively involved in a nationwide investigation in conjunction with our federal law enforcement partners,” the agency said.

A U.S. Secret Service spokesperson on Wednesday said authorities “have identified criminal actors targeting state unemployment insurance program funds” using stolen personal information to file fraudulent claims.

The agency sent out an alert cautioning citizens of fraudulent activity in Washington, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Florida. 

Eva Velasquez, CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center, a San Diego nonprofit that assists victims of fraud around the United States. The organization has fielded 400 calls so far from unemployment insurance fraud victims.

The number of fraud complaints increased for the nonprofit after Congress initially approved the $600 weekly unemployment benefits this April, Velasquez said.

“That $600 [weekly benefit] actually made this a much more lucrative crime for the thieves,” Velasquez said.


People filing unemployment claims in California have to verify their identities and certify their unemployment status. But after the bill passed in April, the California system got so overloaded with applications, the EDD temporarily suspended the certification requirement.

Two fraud schemes in Maryland and Washington netted scammers more than $1 billion in benefits, according to Jon Coss, an anti-fraud expert and vice president at technology consulting company Thomson Reuters who has worked with the California EDD in the past.

“If you look at the dollars associated with fraud in the unemployment insurance program, I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve been doing this for over 30 years,” Coss said.

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Scammers are stealing unemployment benefits from unsuspecting victims in California, according to The Los Angeles Times...
unemploymentbenefits, 600payment, fraud, scams
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2020-48-07
Friday, 07 August 2020 05:48 PM
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