BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (KABC) -- Forty-four people, primarily from other states, have been arrested in Beverly Hills in less than two weeks for alleged identity theft and California Employment Development Department fraud totaling over $2.5 million, authorities said Wednesday.
Investigators learned earlier this month that people were using stolen identities to fraudulently obtain EDD benefits loaded onto debit cards, which can be as high as $20,000, according to the Beverly Hills Police Department.
Cardholders can withdraw up to $1,000 a day per card.
"Suspects have traveled primarily out of state to obtain these fraudulent EDD cards in California,'' the Police Department said in a statement. The suspects allegedly used the cards "to lease short-term rentals, rent luxury vehicles, dine at restaurants and purchase high-end merchandise.''
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During the investigation, police discovered 129 fraudulent EDD cards worth over $2.5 million, as well as seven handguns and $289,000 in cash.
Multiple agencies, including the Los Angeles Police Department, sheriff's department, California Highway Patrol and U.S. Secret Service, met Wednesday to discuss collaboration on combating the issue.
"There are millions of tax dollars being spent fraudulently as a result of this trend,'' Beverly Hills Police Department Chief Dominick Rivetti said.
Anyone with information about the case is urged to call the Beverly Hills Police Department at (310) 285-2125.