350K debit cards for unemployment benefits frozen in California over fraud fears, officials say

California

Faced with a deluge of fraudulent unemployment claims, California officials said Thursday that 350,000 of the debit cards they issued containing benefits have been frozen because of suspicious activity, including a high number of claims at a single address.

The debit cards frozen by the state Employment Development Department and Bank of America could represent billions of dollars in benefits paid out since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March.

“The Department’s top priority is to quickly verify the identity of any claimants in this group that may have been impacted by scammer attacks, while we work to shut down the potentially fraudulent claims,” the agency said in a statement Thursday.

The scope of the potential fraud has alarmed some state officials. But Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) said he is also concerned that people in desperate need of unemployment benefits are also seeing their valid claims held up.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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