Former California employee accused of cheating pandemic benefit system of $200K

Former California employee accused of cheating pandemic benefit system of $200K
© Getty Images

Federal authorities on Thursday accused a California woman of cheating the state's pandemic unemployment benefits system out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to court filings.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Andrea Gervais, a former Employment Development Department (EDD) employee is accused of acquiring more than $200,000 in pandemic unemployment benefits. 

Gervais allegedly submitted more than 100 false claims for pandemic unemployment assistance using stolen information, according to authorities. Notably, one claim was successfully processed and paid to the name of Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) for more than $20,000. 

ADVERTISEMENT

In a statement obtained by the newspaper, a spokesperson from Feinstein's office said that she was aware that her name had been used to file these alleged fraudulent claims. 

"The matter will be handled by law enforcement and the courts,” said spokesman Tom Mentzer, according to the Times. 

Gervais was fired from her position at the EDD in 2018 after an investigation at the department implicated her for stealing a money order, according to a request for a search warrant for her home and vehicle presented to the court on Dec. 11, the newspaper reported. 

That particular request also alleges that Gervais was able to acquire $216,000 dollars from 12 fraudulent claims successfully processed by Pandemic Unemployment Assistance — a program funded by the federal government for gig workers, according to the Times. 

“Unfortunately, these unemployment insurance benefits that were intended for Californians hit hardest by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic shutdown have become the target of what may prove to be the largest fraud scheme ever perpetrated against the taxpayers in California history,” said U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott in a statement obtained by the Times.

“This theft of taxpayer dollars intended to assist our citizens in a very difficult economic time simply will not be tolerated,” he added.