COVID-19 unemployment scam could hit $2 billion, bank tells California lawmakers

By Dale Kasler and David Lightman

December 7, 2020

In late November, a group of California district attorneys made the stunning disclosure that the state had disbursed as much as $1 billion in fraudulent pandemic unemployment assistance to state prisoners and their accomplices.

Now the bank that handed out the COVID-19 money says the amount of fraudulent aid distributed by California since the pandemic hit could be twice as much.

In a letter to state legislators, Bank of America said Monday that it has uncovered fraudulent activity covering more than 345,000 different accounts.

“Our assessment is that there is activity consistent with fraud in those accounts on the order of approximately $2 billion,” the bank’s director of California government relations, Brian Putler, told the lawmakers.

The BofA letter sheds dramatic new light on the extent of a massive fraud ring — mainly based in the state prison system — that has embarrassed Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Employment Development Department. Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, leader of the prosecutors’ task force, called it the biggest fraud case in California history and lambasted EDD for being slow to respond to red flags.

Read more at The Sacramento Bee

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