The Sacramento County attorney called the scale of the looting scheme "stunning. Law enforcement officials believe that much of the stolen money will not be returned.
In the U.S. state of California, about one billion dollars was stolen from a fund to help the unemployed. In particular, several dozen prisoners serving various sentences in state prisons have become part of the fraud scheme, Politico writes.
Sacramento County attorney Ann Schubert described the scam as "the largest taxpayer-funded fraud in California's history.
The investigation found that the scammers arranged for 35,000 convicts to apply for assistance for loss of employment during the pandemic. At least 20,000 applications were approved by the Unemployment Assistance Fund.
"It's not just about stolen money, it's about closing the tap, which means we have to stop paying prison inmates. We appealed to the governor of the state and called for his participation in blocking the tap," Schubert said.
Several cases have been filed for embezzlement, and the prosecutors are pessimistic in their view that such amounts have been taken out of the state, or even the country.
Whether there are detainees or suspects in this investigation is not being reported.
The publication notes that such embezzlement of funds from unemployment funds during the pandemic has occurred on a massive scale across the country.
Federal officials have previously stated that fraudsters - in the United States and elsewhere - may have stolen about $8 billion from these funds.