Unemployment fraud is no new issue. However, the unemployment benefits given, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, have created new ways for criminals to steal from citizens. We are going to inform you on the issue, and present proactive measures you can take to avoid these fraudulent schemes.

Criminals around the world are stealing unemployment benefits from Americans through crooked claims. Many Californians are not receiving the money they need, and unfortunately those lucky to be employed are just as susceptible to these twisted schemes.

According to a report by the Employment Development Department (EDD), “California workers impacted by this historic COVID-19 pandemic have now received a total of $90.6 billion in unemployment benefits.”  

….But are they? The EDD is aware of fraudster’s attempts to steal money that is not theirs. In an attempt to combat this war on unemployment benefits, the EDD has implemented new technology to its identity processing system to hopefully avoid fraudulent claims. 


There are many ways criminals are able to file fraudulent claims, and candidly, even some that are not uncovered yet. The primary are as follows:

  1. Someone is filing under a false name with your address.
    Similar to what happened to one of our employees, criminals will see that there is a vacant property or property they believe will be an easy target. The scammer will then register your address as the place of residence for a fraudulent claim. Typically, these houses are on the street and have an easily accessible mailbox making it easy for a criminal to steal checks from.
  2. A scammer is using your social security number to take your benefits (that either you need or that you have not applied for).
    Also known as identity theft, this ploy is unfortunately fairly common. It will be evident that a criminal has stolen your identity if you attempt to apply for unemployment benefits and the EDD site alerts you that your social security number is already a recipient of said aid.


Everyone. Old, young, employed, and unemployed all face the same risk of being a victim to this scheme. While the most likely victims are those who have already been a victim of identity theft, the scheme can affect those who least suspect it. 

In fact, one of our own employees here at the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office was a victim of this type of fraud. The employee rents properties and recently listed a vacancy for rent on Zillow. The property was listed for a maximum of 10 days. In that time, fraudsters began their devious work. 

“You don’t expect it to happen until it happens to you,” said the employee. “My property received at least 30 letters of EDD benefits in 15 different names using my rental property’s address.” 


While the EDD and your district attorney’s office can provide you with information in an attempt to protect you, we cannot completely prevent such schemes from happening. One of our own, hypervigilant employees had their information taken and manipulated by scammers. The best we can do is inform and educate our community on how to best prevent something like this from happening. 


  1. Notify the Employment Development Department and the Department of Labor
  2. File a report with your local law enforcement agency
  3. Place a hold on your credit through the major credit bureaus; Equifax, Experian, and Transunion