Sacramento — The administration of California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday tapped a former federal prosecutor to help investigate billions of dollars in bogus unemployment benefits paid by the state.
The Department of Employment Development and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services Fraud Task Force have named McGregor W. Scott as a “fraud special counsel.” The agencies said Scott would work with law enforcement to tackle the fraud and prosecute those accusing the government.
Scott was the US Attorney for the Eastern District of California under former Republican Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump. The district covers 34 counties from the Oregon border to Bakersfield in the Central Valley.
While the U.S. Attorney, Scott and several county prosecutors disclosed that the state had approved hundreds of millions of dollars in unemployment benefits in the name of prison inmates, including some convicted murderers.
“The state unemployment system was under attack last year by sophisticated international and domestic organized fraud schemes,” Scott said. “We look forward to working with EDD, Cal OES, and local, state, and federal prosecutors to identify, investigate, and prosecute those who stole benefits to Californians in genuine need.” was in his pocket.”
After Newsom issued the nation’s first statewide stay-at-home order, which forced many businesses to close, California was overwhelmed by unemployment claims during the coronavirus pandemic. More than 23 million claims have been filed since March 2020, with the state paying out benefits worth $158 billion.
But at least $11 billion of that money was fraud, state officials said earlier this year. The state labeled the other $20 billion in benefits as “doubtful” but has not yet said how many of those benefits were fraudulent.
Department officials said in a statement that the Department of Employment Development has implemented safeguards to detect fraud and identity theft, including a new identity verification tool and cross-checking applications against law enforcement databases from Thompson Reuters. Huh.
“McGregor Scott has led many large-scale criminal investigations in his many years as a state and federal prosecutor – experience that will help put the perpetrator behind bars,” said Rita Sainz, director of the Department of Employment Development.