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, police said Wednesday.

Police 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,” police said. The suspects allegedly use the cards “to lease short-term rentals, rent luxury vehicles, dine at restaurants and purchase high-end merchandise.”

Police located 129 fraudulent EDD cards, worth over $2.5 million, as well as seven handguns and $289,000 in cash on the suspects.

Multiple agencies, including the Los Angeles Police Department, sheriff’s department, California Highway Patrol and U.S. Secret Service, met Wednesday to discuss working together to combat 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.

“The Beverly Hills Police Department is also working closely with our business community to keep them well informed of this trend in an effort to mitigate these crimes within our City.”

Anyone with information about the crime trend was urged to call the Beverly Hills Police Department at 310-285-2125.

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