Feds allege record $25 million in claims from jobless scam

This March 28, 2017 photo provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shows Daryol Richmond. Richmond, is one of two California prison inmates who allegedly ran an unemployment scam that sought to defraud the California Ec

An unemployment scam operated out of California prisons sought a record $25 million from the state and U.S. governments, netting more than $5 million that went for vehicles, furniture, handbags and jewelry, federal authorities said Friday.

The $25 million is the largest known single intended haul in California, said former U.S. attorney McGregor Scott, who is working with the state Employment Development Department to coordinate investigations into fraud related to pandemic relief.

Yet it and the $5 million actual loss remains a fraction of the more than $20 billion in unemployment benefits that authorities believe has been stolen since March 2020 as the state approved fraudulent payments in the names of death row inmates and even U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Inmates Daryol Richmond, 31, and Telvin Breaux, 30, both from Los Angeles County, falsely claimed that they and others including minor children had been selling clothing or working as handymen, mechanics or in other jobs until they became unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new indictment alleges.