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Understand that no one can tell you for certain or not whether the Employment Development Department (EDD), which administers the unemployment program, will prosecute you, or if they did, if you would go to jail. Once fraud is suspected, EDD's fraud investigation unit takes over and looks into the allegations. If they uncover enough evidence to convince the local prosecuting agency to file criminal charges, they submit their report to that agency. If they believe that the claim will get rejected, they simply retain their file in case they are able to obtain additional evidence against the suspect individual. That said, is it likely? No, especially if this is a first offense. Rather, they would look to recover the overpayment from you and collect a penalty.
Unemployment fraud occurs when you knowingly give false information or withhold information and receive benefits that you should not have received. With a fraud overpayment, you are assessed a penalty in the amount of 30 percent of the amount of the overpayment and a false statement disqualification of 5 to 23 weeks. Fraud over-payments and penalties must be repaid.
There are potential defenses - if for example, you believed you had submitted a legitimate claim, accidentally reported the wrong information (such as underreported income) or didn't realize you had to submit certain income, then it can be argued that you didn't "knowingly" commit a crime.
My suggestion -especially since you are a greencard holder, and a conviction could have serious ramifications, is that you speak with a criminal defense lawyer. They may be able to contact the EDD on your behalf and work out a repayment.
Additionally, they can be helpful in determining whether you were actually ineligible (e.g., if you voluntarily quit employment, you normally would not be eligible for unemployment benefits) and whether you have any defenses.
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