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California's unemployment fraud reaches at least $20 billion

The number represents more than 11% of all benefits paid since the start of the pandemic
Credit: AP
FILE - In this May 11, 2020, file photo, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris speaks during an oversight hearing in Sacramento, Calif. Rita Saenz, the director of California's unemployment benefits agency, said Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, the state Employment Development Department approved $20 billion in fraudulent payments since the start of the pandemic, up from an estimated $11 billion the agency confirmed in January. Petrie-Norris, a Democrat from Laguna Beach, said "when government agencies fail this badly, I believe that it breaks the public trust." (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California has paid at least $20 billion in fraudulent unemployment benefits since the start of the pandemic.

Employment Development Department Director Rita Saenz confirmed the number to state lawmakers during an oversight hearing Monday. That number is less than state officials originally had feared. But it still represents more than 11% of all benefits paid since the start of the pandemic. 

State Auditor Elaine Howell said the state has made good progress in adopting some of its recommendations from an audit released in January. But the auditor's office said the department has more work to do.

For the full AP story, click HERE.

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