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Kern DA: ‘Astronomical’ unemployment fraud hits close to home

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District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer spoke from her office during a December 2019 interview. A massive unemployment fraud scandal throughout California has hit home in Kern County, where about 4,000 inmates received $16 million during the COVID-19 pandemic. “In my nearly four decades as a prosecutor in this state, I have never seen fraud of this magnitude,” Zimmer told The Associated Press.

A massive unemployment fraud scandal in California has hit Kern County in a significant way.

From March to August, the state has put more than $140 million on debit cards and mailed them to addresses associated with at least 35,000 prisoners, according to Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert. At least 158 claims were approved for 133 death-row inmates, resulting in more than $420,000 in benefits.