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Many Californians are anxiously waiting for unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, but James Myers was not happy when he received a letter from the state notifying him that his application for assistance had been approved.

The Folsom tech engineer has a job and has not applied for financial assistance from the California Employment Development Department, putting him among the thousands of Americans affected each year by unemployment fraud, a crime experts say is on the rise along with job losses across the country in an economy battered by the spread of coronavirus.

“I freaked out because somebody’s obviously got my identity,” said Myers, who works for Micron Technology, Inc. “I jumped all over it. I canceled things and put a credit hold on. I filed a police report.”

Myers tried to report the error to the EDD by phone, including calling its fraud hotline, but could not reach a live person. So he submitted the information to the agency online and has not heard back.

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