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Goldstein Investigates: EDD Claims Filed On Behalf Of Children Raise Questions

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A Fresno girl who just celebrated her first birthday is collecting $167 per week in unemployment benefits after a claim was filed on her behalf stating that she was an unemployed actor

EDD Building
An investigation by CBS Los Angeles' David Goldstein found nearly a dozen questionable unemployment claims for minors receiving unemployment funds as unemployed actors or fashion models. (CBSLA)

And a 12-year-old Sacramento girl had a claim filed on her behalf that said she made $40,000 last year as a fashion model. Another Sacramento child, this time a 9-year-old boy, had a claim filed on his behalf stating that he made $33,000 last year, also as a fashion model.

Both of those children have different last names, but the claims list the same address — traced back to a mailbox store in Sacramento.

There were nearly a dozen questionable unemployment claims for minors found in a CBS Los Angeles investigation of internal state unemployment files. Sources said many of those claims have been red-flagged, but only after benefits had been paid out for months.

And while CBSLA cannot say whether all of the claims were in fact fraudulent, an investigation found that none of the minors in question have entertainment work permits, required for people under 18 who work as actors or models in California.

Bill Kresse, a professor at Governors State University in Chicago — known as Professor Fraud — said it's sometimes easier for scammers to us the identities of children.

"They have a clean record, which is one of the reasons why children are very often the best victims of identity theft," he said. "They have clean records."

When asked about the claims, EDD said in a statement:

"As there are many child actors in California, it is customary to see wages and/or residuals; payment is not contingent on a work permit."

State Senator Melissa Melendez of Riverside, who has been critical of the department, said EDD should be checking every claim that's filed before benefits are paid out.

"EDD has to have a way to identify that the people who are making the claim have a legitimate right to this money, and I don't know how else you do that if you don't have some system in place for checking that," she said.

Sources said that many times when claims are investigated the benefits are cut off, but there was no telling how many potentially fraudulent claims there were.

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