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NewsChannel 3 Investigates

Tipline Investigation: Problems at CA EDD fraud, a broken system or both?

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Our NewsChannel Tipline investigation into problems at California’s Employment Development Department, also known as the EDD, is raising serious concerns about possible fraud. EDD is responsible for overseeing and dispersing unemployment benefits to millions of out-of-work Californians.

NewsChannel Anchor C.J. Ward started working on this story in late April as viewers started calling the station's tipline about problems getting their unemployment benefits from EDD. Since then the situation has become much worse.

At first, the viewers who called our TV station for help did not want to talk on camera because they were either embarrassed or they were afraid to upset someone at EDD and possibly never get their money. However, as the months pass by and many people still haven't received their unemployment benefits, the desperation has reached a breaking point for some.

More than a 100 people have called our NewsChannel Tipline since we aired our first story two weeks ago. Many of the stories are heartbreaking. One woman who called us has been a crossing guard in Oxnard for almost 35 years. She was laid off and her husband was laid off because of the pandemic shutdown. They said they've been living on less than 300-dollars a month since March because EDD wasn’t sending their money and they couldn't reach anyone at EDD to help them. The NewsChannel Tipline Team contacted EDD media representatives in Sacramento on their behalf and within 10 days the couple received all of their EDD benefits.

Sadly, many more people are still waiting for their money. C.J. Ward has spoken with about 70 people who said they filed for unemployment benefits, some as far back as mid-March when the pandemic shutdown began. They've even provided documentation including their assigned EDD number, date of claim and other specifics to verify their story.

Many tell Ward they would be homeless if they weren't receiving support from family and friends. Others said they have no safety net and are very close to being homeless if they don't receive their benefits very soon. Governor Newsom's order halting evictions through February first, 2021 has saved many of them from ending up on the street.

Danielle DelValle is one of the people who called The NewsChannel for help. She was a local substitute teacher working on getting her teaching credential when she was laid off because of the pandemic. DelValle said she was working daily and in high demand before everything came to a screeching halt in March. She said she filed for unemployment benefits on March 29, 2020 and EDD notified her that she qualified. But she said she's never received any money and has spent countless hours on the phone for the last five months trying to reach someone at EDD. DelValle's story is even more interesting because she said when she logs into her online EDD account it shows 'pending' for a second then quickly switches over to show that she's been 'paid.'

“And you’ve tried to contact EDD about this specific problem?” Asked C.J. Ward during a recent interview.

“Multiple times. And I have actually mailed them with extreme specifics. I have told them exactly what it says online, that I’ve been paid. I’ve emailed the actual numbers for the certification or confirmation check numbers that are on my list online and the amounts I was supposed to be paid and told them I haven’t received any of these payments,” said DelValle.

DelValle said no one at EDD ever responded to her emails and she hadn't received her benefits. She is now living with her parents.

"I am very lucky that I have family who is helping me, because if not, I would be homeless," said DelValle.

The NewsChannel Tipline Team contacted EDD on her behalf and on behalf of many others who have not received their benefits. DelValle said she received a call from an EDD official on Thursday morning who explained that her EDD debit card with all of the benefits she's entitled to was sent to the wrong address. EDD told her that it's issuing another debit card to her and paying her all of the money she is owed.

The NewsChannel also asked EDD about other troubling patterns we've uncovered during our investigation including:

  1. Wrong Social Security number, Date of Birth or other identity information. More than half of the people who have contacted our Tipline have reported this problem.
  2. Benefits started, then stopped. Now in 'pending status.' Viewers with this problem say they don't know what this means and they can't reach anyone at EDD to explain it to them.
  3. Claimant received an award letter, but hasn't received any money. The award letter spells out how much money the person is entitled to according to EDD. But again, people tell us they can't reach anyone at EDD to correct the problem.

EDD officials told The NewsChannel a week ago they would investigate our findings and send us a statement for each point. However, so far we have not received a response.

Finally, if you called the NewsChannel Tipline requesting help with your EDD unemployment benefits claim and we haven't called you back yet, we will soon.

If you need to contact our Tipline, the number is 805-882-3903.

Business Matters / California / Coronavirus / Economy / Money and Business / San Luis Obispo County / Santa Barbara - South County / Santa Maria - Lompoc - North County / Ventura County

C.J. Ward

C.J. Ward is the evening anchor for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and the station’s lead investigative reporter.

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