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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The California Employment Development Department (EDD) announced Tuesday it recovered $1.1 billion in unemployment insurance funds in an effort to investigate fraudsters.

According to a press release from the office of Gov. Gavin Newsom, the recovered funds were found on approximately 780,000 inactivated benefit cards. 

“Fraudsters and criminal organizations ripped off California, along with every other state, during one of the worst crises in history — we’re taking aggressive action to return that money to the taxpayers,” Newsom said in a statement. 

The governor said that most of the funds will be returned to the federal government due to many fraudulent claims being from the emergency Unemployment Assistance Program, which was among the highest targets of fraud nationwide. 

Within the past 15 months, a total of 1,525 investigations were conducted, 467 arrests were made, 162 people were convicted and $3,474,448 was seized. 

“We will continue working with law enforcement to put fraudsters behind bars and recover every stolen dollar that we can,” said EDD Fraud Special Counsel McGregor Scott. 

Scott was hired from the state in July 2021 to assist law enforcement in combating EDD fraud.

Other actions the state has taken to help fight fraud include setting up a call center to help victims of identity theft with any tax-related questions. Calling 1-866-401-2849 is one way to report fraud. 

EDD is one of the nation’s largest public benefits systems with over 20 million people filing for unemployment, disability insurance and paid family leave claims worth $60 million over the past decade.