Joined: 23 Sep 2004
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|Posted: 03/08/21 5:21 am :::
|Okay. It's only been a few hours and I know that we don't have the big group we used to have but, nevertheless, this is a smart and informed bunch of people and so that 'zero' next to 'yes' is both stunning and heartbreaking.
But... the truth is I wouldn't even have brought this here in the form of a poll question had I not suspected a result like this. And the reason that matters is I think a big part of the story itself.
So it started to be reported in the news last fall. It was initially, and to some degree still is, referred to in the media as the 'prisoner' unemployment fraud.
The initial numbers were stunning. $140M
|Nine district attorneys across California and a federal prosecutor on Tuesday called for Gov. Gavin Newsom to intervene to stop unemployment swindling in California jails and prisons — which may involve tens of thousands of questionable claims totaling hundreds of millions of dollars..
The district attorneys called the situation “the most significant fraud on taxpayer funds in California history,” according to a letter obtained by The Times, describing crimes that involve identity theft of prisoners as well as alleged conspiracies by individual inmates and organized gangs to game the state system.
So far, investigations have uncovered more than $400,000 in state benefits paid to death row inmates and more than $140 million to other incarcerated people in California’s 35 prisons, according to Schubert.
$140 million. The most significant fraud perpetrated on taxpayers in the history of California.
About a week later the number went up. (Everything in this thread is from the LA Times and I'll put the links at the bottom.)
|SACRAMENTO — State investigators have so far identified $400 million paid on some 21,000 unemployment benefit claims improperly filed in the names of California prison inmates, officials said Monday, as state lawmakers called for legislative hearings over the massive fraud.
Then came this story.
|California prosecutors say ‘tsunami’ of prison unemployment fraud fuels street crime
SACRAMENTO — As plots are revealed inside California prisons and jails to scam pandemic unemployment benefits, district attorneys across much of California are calling on state leaders to help them stop, investigate and prosecute the fraud — aid they say has been slow to materialize as abuses continue.
“It’s a tsunami,” said Sacramento County Dist. Atty. Anne Marie Schubert, one prosecutor who fears the money stolen could be contributing to crime on the street. “Ultimately the bottom line is we need help.”
Multiple district attorneys interviewed by The Times said they are frustrated that state officials, including state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra, have not taken leadership in what some have described as the biggest taxpayer fraud in California history.
But prosecutors contend that without immediate action to allow investigators to compare EDD claims against inmate rolls, their hands are tied — potentially leaving money flowing from prison gangs to street gangs involved in drugs, guns and other crimes. Those interviewed by The Times said that although some of the alleged fraud may have been perpetrated by individuals, much of it appears to be organized, with multiple payments going to the same address.
Hestrin said federal prosecutors are working with a statewide task force of district attorneys in pursuing the cases, but state prosecutors so far have taken little interest. Ventura County Dist. Atty. Greg Totten added that while fraud has historically been a locally handled crime, the volume of the EDD problem is unprecedented.
“It is a good question why the attorney general isn’t involved.” Hestrin said.
Rios added that, “the part that I find the most offensive is just the lack of response or interest on the part of the [California] attorney generals’ office.”
(Okay, so the reason Xavier Becerra was disengaged on all this was the presidential election and the aftermath which saw him eventually nominated to a cabinet position. I'm not going to write that story here but that's the short answer there.)
Back to the money.
I don't have a link to this so you'll have to take my word for it... but at some point not long after this the estimation of losses to the fraud rose to I believe $800M. Didn't stay there for long.
So. I'm a little out of chronological order here. But I'm taking liberties with that because there's a deeper narrative than what is reflected in the news reports. And this is where things get a little dicey for me as a person relaying this information online but I'll give you as much as I'm comfortable giving.
I live in Beverly Hills. Long before this story broke, we knew, EVERYONE knew, that something was going on in Beverly Hills.
I'll leave it at that for now. Here is a story from right around the time that the news of the "prisoner" EDD fraud broke. Looking back. I would say that the following story came about two weeks after the initial reports of the fraud hit the news.
|Beverly Hills police arrest 44 in bust of unemployment fraud schemes
PUBLISHED SEP. 16, 2020
SACRAMENTO — Citing an epidemic of fraud involving California’s unemployment benefits system, the Beverly Hills Police Department said Wednesday that it has arrested 44 people and confiscated 129 fraudulently obtained debit cards potentially worth more than $2.5 million in benefits issued by the state Employment Development Department.
The arrests have been made since Sept. 3, after suspects with fraudulently obtained cards visited Beverly Hills stores, restaurants and other businesses to make purchases, according to a department statement.
More than $289,000 in U.S. currency and seven handguns have also been seized.
“There are millions of tax dollars being spent fraudulently as a result of this trend,” Police Chief Dominick Rivetti said in a statement. “The Beverly Hills Police Department is also working closely with our business community to keep them well-informed of this trend in an effort to mitigate these crimes within our city.”
The investigation began after police officers learned that people were using stolen identities to obtain EDD benefits loaded onto debit cards issued by the state agency. The alleged fraud was discovered when cards were found during arrests for other crimes and during stops for vehicle code violations.
Information posted on social media by suspects also helped investigators track down fraudulently obtained cards, but the arrests involve individuals and not a fraud ring, Lt. Max Subin said.
Each card seized can have up to $20,000 in unemployment benefits on it, although Beverly Hills investigators say they cannot access the cards to see how much the accounts contain.
“They will then use the cards to lease short-term rentals, rent luxury vehicles, dine at restaurants and purchase high-end merchandise,” the department‘s statement said.
Some of those arrested or investigated were driving rental cars including a Bentley SUV, a BMW, a Mercedes-Benz and a Lamborghini, but the investigation is continuing to determine whether EDD funds were used to rent the vehicles.
Okay where were we on the total of the fraud so far? $400M? $800?
|California unemployment fraud amid COVID-19 pandemic may total $2 billion, Bank of America says
DEC. 7, 2020 UPDATED 6:23 PM PT
SACRAMENTO — Bank of America estimated Monday that fraud in California’s unemployment benefits system could total $2 billion, and said it has identified 640,000 accounts with suspicious activity that should be investigated to determine whether they are bogus and should be shut down.
The bank, which has contracted with the state Employment Development Department to issue debit cards containing unemployment benefits, issued the warning in a letter to state legislators. It represents the highest estimate of fraud yet in a system that has paid $110 billion since the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a wave of joblessness in California beginning in March.
A bank official said red flags have been issued on claims filed in the names of infants, children and centenarians, as well as people living in states not contiguous to California.
“It is outrageous,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. “We understand that there was an effort to push as much money into the economy as possible but there has got to be some controls. Here it is like they have opened up a bag of cash in the middle of a tornado and hoped that it ends up someplace where it is supposed to be.”
$2 billion. So let me interject a few more things. What the hodgepodge of local DAs working together on this case could SEE, because it was relatively easy to see, was the prison angle. But that would be like aliens landing at the North Pole and then going home and saying the earth is cold and devoid of much life. The prisoner stuff is just the tip of the iceberg. Once you know it's happening it's easy to spot.
Obviously a lot of prisoners were clued in on the scam and were able to take advantage. Also, many were taken advantage of. Scott Peterson, as one of the linked LA Times stories reports, signed up to get his fraudulent unemployment funds and that story was ALL OVER the news in California.
But at that very moment Scott Peterson was fighting to get a retrial. lol. And his chances were and I believe still are looking pretty good. He would no more have taken part in this fraud than a dead man.
But, apparently some dead men did take part in it. But whatever on that. When I'm dead, you can sign me up for anything. Just deal me in.
So what's the score so far? $2 billion.
|California unemployment fraud could top $9 billion, double previous estimate, expert warns
JAN. 15, 2021 2:29 PM PT
SACRAMENTO — As an army of investigators tries to pin down the scope of unemployment benefit fraud in California, the head of a security firm working for the state is warning that payments of fraudulent claims could more than double the $4 billion previously estimated, and that a flood of those claims involve overseas crime rings.
At least 10% of unemployment claims may have been fraudulent before controls were installed in October, according to Blake Hall, founder and chief executive of the company ID.me., which has been hired by the state Employment Development Department to weed out fraud. A 10% fraud rate could total $9.8 billion of the benefits paid from March through September.
Much of the fraud in California and other states is coming from organized criminal gangs operating in some 20 foreign countries, including Russia, China, Nigeria, Ghana, Turkey and Bulgaria, Hall said.
So I seem to have missed that $4B estimated earlier. But the $9B is a warning so let's hold off for something more concrete. Wait! What's this? This looks exactly like concrete.
|California officials say unemployment fraud now totals more than $11 billion
JAN. 25, 2021 3:37 PM PT
SACRAMENTO — California officials said Monday they have confirmed that $11.4 billion in unemployment benefits paid during the COVID-19 pandemic involve fraud — about 10% of benefits paid — and another 17% are under investigation.
In addition to the confirmed fraud, the state Employment Development Department has stopped tens of billions of dollars in payments on bogus claims through tougher security measures adopted since last fall, according to state Labor Secretary Julie Su.
“There is no sugarcoating the reality,” Su said during a press conference Monday. “California has not had sufficient security measures in place to prevent this level of fraud, and criminals took advantage of the situation.”
California has paid out $114 billion in unemployment benefits since March 2020, when the state stay-at-home orders caused many businesses to close or reduce operations, putting millions out of work. Some 19 million claims have been processed by the agency.
$11B. From the most significant fraud perpetrated against taxpayers in the history of California, 140 MILLION dollars, to SEVENTY-EIGHT TIMES that amount.
So sorry, again, I don't have a link, but what I've heard is that the fraud now is likely up to $30 billion dollars. And it's kind of suggested in a subsequent paragraph in the last LA Times piece here.
|The state is investigating another 17% of benefits involving suspicious claims that have not yet been proven to be fraudulent — about $19 billion worth.
19 plus 11 is where people are getting the 30.
So it's real late and this was a lot of work. I've changed my mind about posting the links, at least for tonight. I'll keep the tabs open and if there's an outcry (in my dreams) I'll post them.
But why am I bringing this here? So if the $140M number way way back in August was said to be the largest fraud perpetrated against the state in California history... the richest state ever... then I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that the 30 billion we are at now would qualify as the largest criminal fraud perpetrated against taxpayers ever in the United States.
But why didn't you guys know about it? So many tens of thousands of legitimate claims here in California were not paid, the stories on the news are heartbreaking, but this state paid out, at this writing, upwards of 30 billion dollars to criminals.
So I think I know why you haven't heard about this, why you haven't been hearing about, why the rest of the country hasn't been hearing about it. But I can't say. I can't say it out loud. And, I believe, that's at the heart of why this story isn't ongoing front page material in this country. Because this story, the details, are not in line with the times we are living in.
That's it. I don't have much more to say tonight. But there was a mystery in the air in Beverly Hills for months before this story about the EDD fraud broke. 2020 was just an incredibly historic year. Who could have imagined the things we've seen. We'll be taking this moment apart for the rest of all our lives.
Every woman who has ever been presented with a career/sex quid pro quo in the entertainment industry should come forward and simply say, “Me, too.” - jammer The New York Times 10/10/17