California Paid $400 Million to Incarcerated Criminals

How easy is it to defraud the State of California? This easy:

The state of California sent roughly $400 million in fraudulent unemployment payments to state prisoners – nearly triple the amount disclosed last week, after nine district attorneys and a U.S. Attorney announced the state was impeding their investigation.

The state approved fraudulent applications submitted on behalf of roughly 31,000 inmates, prosecutors discovered, made possible in part by inmates working with individuals outside of prisons.

Governor Gavin Newsom naturally declined to take any responsibility:

Newsom said he was “deeply alarmed” by the problem and blamed Congress for expanding unemployment benefits to $600 a week.

“While this helped many individuals in need during this pandemic, bad actors took advantage of the crisis to abuse the system,” Newsom said.

But the fraud had nothing to do with the feds. They simply contributed some of the money that was obtained fraudulently. It was incompetence in Newsom’s administration that allowed the scams to take place.

Of the 31,000 inmates who filed for unemployment benefits or whose names were used to file for benefits, roughly 20,800 received payments. Roughly $80 million worth of claims involving the other prisoners were not paid, Page said.

So two-thirds of the time, this naked theft worked.

At least 132 death row inmates who have not worked in years and are ineligible to file for unemployment, including notorious serial killers, received unemployment benefits, prosecutors said.

As has frequently been noted, the more governments get involved in activities outside their core functions–climate change and plastic straws are good contemporary examples–the more incompetent they become at discharging their actual responsibilities. And the fundamental reason why governments at all levels are so wasteful is that they are dealing, always, with other people’s money.

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