The EDD will refund and collect wages from the CA person who reported the unemployment fraud on its behalf.

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BRENTWOOD, Calif. (KGO) — It’s been almost three years since the pandemic left millions out of work. As you may recall, the Department of Employment Development was so overwhelmed with unemployment claims that it unwittingly paid out billions of dollars to fraudsters.

And now, after all this time, some ordinary citizens are paying the price.

Criminals used stolen identities to file fraudulent unemployment claims. The EDD is now trying to get that money back. But more often than not, ESDs go after identity theft victims instead of the actual scammers.

“You saved our money, and now you’re going to get more,” said Brentwood’s Ronald Huang. She tried for months to alert the EDD that they had used her identity to claim unemployment benefits.

“They kept chasing me, chasing me,” Juan said.

Juan’s ordeal began in 2020, when his employer received notice that Juan had filed for unemployment.

VIDEO: EDD tells young woman to prove she’s a hard worker, then kicks her out when she’s due

But he never did.

“It was a real curve ball,” Huang said.

The company responded that Huang was employed full-time and that Huang himself had filed a fraud report on the EDD website, noting that someone had claimed benefits on his behalf.

“They used my name, my social security, but they used a different address,” she said.

Juan never heard from him.

“Then two years later we had this surprise,” said Ronald’s wife, Cherry.

MORE: EDD wrongly denies hundreds of thousands of CA unemployment claims each year, report says

Without warning, the EDD seized their tax refund last June. $6,400 is missing. A notice from the Internal Revenue Service said it was “unemployment fraud.”

“We can’t believe it. How could such a thing happen?’ asked Cherry.

He didn’t stop there. The EDD began garnishing Juan’s wages, ordering him to pay an additional $9,000.

Even after Huang reported the fraud, it was revealed that the EDD paid the fraudster more than $15,000.

“And it was hard. Because this is a single family with three children. I have a 9-year-old and two 4-year-old twins…” said Cherry.

The couple reached out to 7 On Your Side.

MORE: EDD estimates nearly $20 billion has been paid to fraudsters since pandemic began.

We asked the EDD why it didn’t stop the fraud after Juan reported it. A spokeswoman did not elaborate on the matter, saying in part that “criminals have been very aggressive and we understand how frustrating this can be for victims who are trying to rebuild their lives and uncover fraud.” .

It took several weeks, but the EDD issued a refund.

“It definitely took the stress out of it because it was a lot of money,” Huang said.

“We are very grateful for your help,” said Cherry.

Huang said the EDD told him the fraud report was lost during the move after the EDD upgraded its computer system. The EDD says it is working to improve communication between departments to prevent fraud.

See more stories and videos about Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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