44 arrested in California for EDD fraud totaling more than $2.5 million, police say

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Forty-four people, primarily from other states, have been arrested in Beverly Hills in less than two weeks for alleged identity theft and California Employment Development Department fraud totaling over $2.5 million, authorities said Wednesday.

Investigators learned earlier this month that people were using stolen identities to fraudulently obtain EDD benefits loaded onto debit cards, which can be as high as $20,000, according to the Beverly Hills Police Department.

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Cardholders can withdraw up to $1,000 a day per card.

"Suspects have traveled primarily out of state to obtain these fraudulent EDD cards in California,'' the Police Department said in a statement. The suspects allegedly used the cards "to lease short-term rentals, rent luxury vehicles, dine at restaurants and purchase high-end merchandise.''

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Complaints have poured in from desperate Californians not receiving their unemployment benefits, or having their bank accounts drained.

During the investigation, police discovered 129 fraudulent EDD cards worth over $2.5 million, as well as seven handguns and $289,000 in cash.

Multiple agencies, including the Los Angeles Police Department, sheriff's department, California Highway Patrol and U.S. Secret Service, met Wednesday to discuss collaboration on combating the issue.

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"There are millions of tax dollars being spent fraudulently as a result of this trend,'' Beverly Hills Police Department Chief Dominick Rivetti said.

Anyone with information about the case is urged to call the Beverly Hills Police Department at (310) 285-2125.
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