Committing Unemployment Insurance Fraud in California
When an individual loses their job or faces reduced hours, they can file for Unemployment insurance (UI). This is done through the California Employment Development Department (EDD), which has certain state-level eligibility requirements for those filing this insurance claim. The UI then allows the recipients to receive a specific amount of payments per week for the duration of their unemployment (there are limits to this duration). However, some individuals commit a criminal offense by defrauding the EDD for benefits they should not be receiving.
When filing for UI, the recipient has to provide complete and accurate information about their former employers, income, and citizenship status. In order to receive benefits, people lie about their former employment and give false information so as to qualify for UI. This is a form of UI fraud. Another way to commit UI fraud occurs when the benefit recipient goes back to work; however, they do not report this change in employment status and still collect the UI payments. Based on the eligibility criteria, you have to report whether you find a job and receive any wages. Failing to do so is an act of fraud against the EDD. There are many more ways to defraud UI programs, such as faking illness, not reporting all earnings, and providing inaccurate dates of when your employment ended (or will begin).
If an individual is found to be committing fraud, the EDD conducts a fraud investigation. The results of this investigation are then presented to local authorities, and if they meet the burden of proof and other legal requirements, a prosecutor can move forward with charges. Since each case of fraud is different, the perpetrator can face either a misdemeanor or a felony charge based on the context of the crime. The perpetrator can face either general insurance fraud penalties or, specifically, UI Code 2101. If charged under UI Code 2101, the perpetrator could potentially face a felony charge that involves up to three years in a state prison facility.