Anti-unemployment fraud measures in California face scrutiny

Posted at 7:49 PM, Feb 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-22 22:49:49-05

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration wants to pay tens of millions of dollars this year to stop scammers from stealing unemployment benefits.

But the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office says state lawmakers should reject Newsom's proposal. They say the fraud prevention tools make it harder for legitimate claimants to get paid.

They also said the state's use of facial recognition software has prompted privacy concerns.

Employment Development Director Nancy Farias says it would be a mistake to stop the fraud prevention measures. She says she believes people are underestimating the amount of identity theft happening related to unemployment benefits.

So far, Farias said the department has 850 pending investigations for fraud and has made over 200 arrests. About 20 cases have been prosecuted.