Police raid in Belmont Heights tied to statewide unemployment fraud investigation

Law enforcement agents raided a home in Belmont Heights this morning as part of a statewide investigation into unemployment fraud, a wide-ranging problem that has plagued California during the pandemic.

Officials said they couldn’t provide many details because the investigation was continuing, but a neighbor said heavily armed officers showed up to a home on Fifth Street just east of Ximeno Avenue around 6 a.m.

After sweeping through the residence, officers kept several people handcuffed in front of the property, the neighbor said.

Long Beach police said they assisted with traffic control during the raid, but it was carried out by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

“Today’s operation in Long Beach was part of a statewide task force investigation into fraud on the state’s unemployment insurance benefits program,” CDCR spokesperson Dana Simas said in an email. “The investigation is ongoing so no further details can be provided at this time.”

Officials have discovered billions of dollars in fraud in California’s unemployment system in the past year.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a crush of unemployment benefit claims overwhelmed the state’s Employment Development Department, contributing to more than $11 billion in fraud—including an estimated $810 million paid in the names of prison inmates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram. He lives in Torrance with his wife, Lindsey, and their two young children.
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