LOS ANGELES — The past nine months have been a roller coaster for Megan Austell. While spending more time at home with her daughter and husband has been a high point, getting $1,000 taken fraudulently from her EDD account was definitely a low.
"I was shocked, I was like, 'What is going on here? This has to be a mistake,'" Austell said.
The money came back into her account almost 90 days after it was taken, except Austell still cannot access it.
"And then only to find that my account was closed and I don't have access to the money," she said.
Diane Letulier has heard too many stories just like Austell's. As a self-employed bookkeeper, she was filing for unemployment back in April. It wasn't long after that her 79-year-old mother became a victim of fraud.
Letulier felt compelled to start a Facebook group to assist others who were experiencing the same troubles.
"I've always been a type of person where I want to make things right to maybe ease someone's pain and grief just a little bit," Letulier said.
Since April, she's been spending the majority of her time giving free advice and answering questions about unemployment claims.
She said the December 26 extension only brought a new wave of problems.
"I would love to see the governor's office do whatever needs to happen, whether it's extra funding, whether it's hiring extra engineers to fix this very broken EDD system," Letulier said.
While Austell was able to get back to work in October, she still hasn't been able to access her EDD account or her thousand dollars.
"I'm just beyond frustrated," she said. "It's like I have this money here at my disposal, but I really don't."
But she knows she is just one of the millions facing similar troubles.
"I definitely think they need to control this at the source. I think it's an inside situation with card numbers being taken when they're being made," Austell said. "I'm just one person just missing $1,000, and even though it's frustrating to me, I can't imagine what it's like for other people."