Northern California Man Charged With Fraud for Stealing $1 Million in COVID Benefits

Written by Sasha Reva

Fraud, fraud, fraud, how often we hear this word. Almost everyday, California is struggling with fraud problems. There are a lot of people who are in need of those benefits and are seeking for help from the government. But unfortunately, fraudsters continue to siphon money away from those who need it as we enter year two of the COVID pandemic.  

A Northern California man has been charged with stealing other people’s identity and obtaining more than $1 million in unemployment benefits. These benefits were intended for those who lost employment or were negatively affected by the COVID pandemic.  Idowu Hashim Shittu, 46, was charged with three counts of fraud this Friday. The charges were filed in federal court. According to the prosecutors, he used personal information of three Washington state residents to request benefits. After the ESD deposited funds, a person who looks like Shittu was seen withdrawing funds in the Bay Area. He currently faces up to 15 years in prison for each count if convicted, may have to pay restitution, fines and penalties, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.  His scheduled court appearance is happening on Monday. 

This case once again highlights  the many issues of fraud that his affecting California. Since the pandemic, California has been a center of unemployment benefits fraud that has crippled the state. Fraud in the system only hurts those that truly need the help as they can lose their benefits or have them frozen. That was the case just last month when around 345,000 disability insurance cases were frozen out of concern for fraud. Until the state fixes the myriad number of issues with unemployment benefits, people who truly need those benefits will continue to be unknowing victims and lose out on benefits that are rightfully theirs.

Photo Cred: Employment Development Department