Stolen Unemployment Debit Cards Are a Boom to Many Area Retailers

Industry News,
Billions of Unemployment Benefits That Could Have Provided Badly Needed Help to Pay for Rent, Food and Medical Care are Going to Gucci and Louis Vuitton

If you have driven by or shopped along one of the local shopping areas such as Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive, you may have seen lines of shoppers standing in line waiting to get into luxury retailer stores. So, what could be the reason for the seemingly explosion of high-end retail activity during a major pandemic? Local police have now discovered the cause of this stepped-up economic activity.

Police have learned that criminals are stealing identities, getting fraudulent Employment Development Department (EDD) debit cards mailed to them in California or other states, and then going on major shopping sprees. Many of the criminals are from out of the area or out-of-state. Recently, a Florida man reported he had received 12 EDD debit cards for different names at his home address. The EDD debit cards are as good as cash and can be used at automated teller machines machines where the criminals can withdraw up to $1000 a day.

Armed with multiple stolen identities, the criminals apply for and receive multiple government issued EDD debit cards worth as much as up to $20,000 per card! They have the debit cards mailed to Airbnb’s or to homes that are for sale, and then travel to the “mail drop” locations to collect the debit cards. Police have found that some of the criminals have received as many as 50 of the $20,000 debit cards. It is happening all over the State of California, and nationally as well in places like New York’s Fifth Avenue shopping district. ABC News reported that according to the Employment Development Department, If identity thieves have a significant amount of information, claims can still be processed and paid out before the scam is uncovered, according.

So, where is all this money coming from? The money comes from the State of California paid for with YOUR hard-earned California tax dollars. This is money that should have gone the unemployed who have experienced “COVID-19 related financial distress.” This is rent money, food money, and money for medical care and clothing. Yet, sadly, our state’s Employment Development Department cannot seem to control the distribution of OUR MONEY. And far worse, it does not appear that the Employment Development Department really cares, or at least, refuses to do anything about it.

According to a report by the Beverly Hills Police Department, which uncovered the root of the major shopping sprees taking place in the “Golden Triangle” shopping district in that city, the Employment Development Department suggested: “You’ll have to solve this on a local level. Our technology isn’t strong enough.” At a time that our state’s government is already hemorrhaging Billions of Dollars and major budget deficits, our state is facilitating “major retail experiences” for criminals, many of whom are not even from California. This money could have and should have gone to assisting out-of-work Californians to help with their housing, food, and clothing, and perhaps even for education and health care funding.

It appears that Sacramento will not address the mess it has caused and the terrible waste of our hard-earned tax dollars. Local police are advising merchants not to accept the EDD debit cards without first verifying identifications, but the police cannot force the merchants to do so, and many of the merchants are complicit. So long as the Employment Development Department continues to “crank-out” these debit cards and local merchants continue to accept the cards, the criminals will continue to shop with our money and the money that should have gone to those Californians in need of it.

In one week alone, the Beverly Hills Police Department recovered 129 fraudulent EDD debit cards valued at more than $2.5 million, seized $289,000 in cash along with 7 handguns, and arrested 44 of these criminals. Unfortunately, there are few consequences for those that were arrested because under California’s new “Zero Bail” policy, the police can only hold the criminals for about 4-to-8 hours despite identify theft being a felony.

This is a terrible crime being perpetrated on all of us California taxpayers. According to Los Angeles City Attorney, Mike Feuer: “Victims may not even learn they were targeted until they apply for unemployment benefits themselves or get a bill from the IRS for the taxes they owe on benefits they never received.” This stolen money surely could have been used to help fellow Californians who are in need, and much of it could have and would have surely gone to pay the RENT that YOU are owed. Contact your state legislator and let them know how you feel.

With the State of California doing “such a great job” (sarcasm) with processing EDD debit cards, one can only imagine how great of a job it will do mailing us our ballots for this November’s election (more sarcasm…sorry).