A California One-Year-Old Is Getting $167 Per Week in Unemployment Payments

News & Politics

Life is hard out there for a kid in California. As the governor shuts down more of the state’s economy to keep everyone “safe” from COVID, out-of-work toddlers are holding out their graham cracker- pudgies to Uncle Gavin and plaintively demanding, “Mine? Mine? Mine!”

A CBS LA investigation found that a Fresno toddler, who just turned one, and other pint-sized “actors” and “models” in California are receiving unemployment checks.

A Fresno girl who just celebrated her first birthday is collecting $167 per week in unemployment benefits after a claim was filed on her behalf stating that she was an unemployed actor. And a 12-year-old Sacramento girl had a claim filed on her behalf that said she made $40,000 last year as a fashion model. Another Sacramento child, this time a 9-year-old boy, had a claim filed on his behalf stating that he made $33,000 last year, also as a fashion model.

Both of those children have different last names, but the claims list the same address — traced back to a mailbox store in Sacramento.

There were nearly a dozen questionable unemployment claims for minors found in a CBS Los Angeles investigation of internal state unemployment files. Sources said many of those claims have been red-flagged, but only after benefits had been paid out for months.

The children getting unemployment checks reportedly aren’t registered with the state, as they must be to work in entertainment, and the state is left answering uncomfortable questions about why it’s blindly making payments to those Frankenstein-walking toddlers who are scamming the system.

CBS LA investigative reporter David Goldstein uncovered another reason that the children might be pulling off a racket worthy of La Cost Nostra. 

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And while CBSLA cannot say whether all of the claims were in fact fraudulent … Bill Kresse, a professor at Governors State University in Chicago — known as Professor Fraud — said it’s sometimes easier for scammers to us the identities of children.

“They have a clean record, which is one of the reasons why children are very often the best victims of identity theft,” he said. “They have clean records.”

California lawmakers say they’re stunned that nobody at the California Employment Development Department is checking to see if the payouts are real or scams, which could be done by checking to see if the kids really have filed the required paperwork as underaged entertainers or filed 1099 forms. Goldstein says an adult who claimed to be a barber making $123,000 last year never had his salary checked by the EDD, either.

Governor Newsom could take a break from killing jobs and pick up a phone. Assemblymember Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) told CBS LA that “There’s no reason why the governor cannot right now [be] using his executive authority pick up the telephone and say to those involved at the EDD, ‘Get your act together, or else.’”

The Employment division is now beginning to check.

Beginning this week, the EDD will be verifying the income of people who are self-employed, using state databases — something that hasn’t been done in the past. If their income cannot be verified, claimants will have 21 days to provide proof before their benefits are cut off.

That means that before they check, the state will start issuing checks and stop in the case of a scam. So it’s still a pay-first and ask questions later scheme. Wow.

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