PPP Loan Fraud Lawyers
PPP – Paycheck Protection Program – loan fraud, is a huge issue right now. If you’re investigated and audited, there’s immense political pressure for prosecutors to convict you, or find wrongdoing.
PPP loan fraud is the act of getting money by false pretenses from the CARES act. As of April 2020, businesses can get up to $10 million to cover payroll, mortgages, rent, and utilities expenses. If the money borrowed goes towards these expenses, then the money is forgivable for those “qualified expenses.” Only businesses that were truly impacted by COVID 19, and have less than 50 full time employees are eligible for this funding.
If you cheated the SBA out of money is a felony. It carries fines, prison time, and immediate repayment of the loan. If you’re accused of PPP loan fraud, or if you’re being audited/investigated, we encourage you to contact us for a risk free consultation.
What’s PPP loan fraud?
PPP loan fraud is a determination made due to someone intentionally obtaining, or attempting to obtain, funds through the CARES act which they aren’t entitled to getting at all. Below are examples of PPP loan fraud.
- Claiming you have less than 500 employees when it’s not true
- Claiming Coronavirus hurt your business, in order to qualify for the loan
- Inflating payroll costs to get more money
- Claiming the loan money is going towards qualified expenses
If investigated, it’s likely the Office of the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery will investigate you. It’s likely the DOJ will also get involved and prosecute charges.
What are penalties for PPP fraud?
PPP loan fraud is a crime. The sentences will depend on the offense you commit.
For example, if you’re convicted of a Felony, it’s likely to result in a fine, and prison time, in addition to restitution.
In order to disprove PPP fraud allegations, the defendant will have to prove there was no intent to defraud and that the SBA has made a mistake.
Lack of intent to defraud is important
Defendants aren’t criminally liable if they accidentally provided false info. Loan applications are very complicated, and at a time of stress – things can get filled out incorrectly. For example if you added an extra 0 to your payroll costs, this is an honest mistake. No crime is committed because you had no intent to defraud the government. If the government tries to go after you, they would have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If you say and explain your mistake, the charges might be dropped.
The SBA could make a mistake
Like all agencies, the SBA messes up. During this time of increased stress and activity, errors are likely. It’s critical to keep your records. You must written, email, text, communications, in addition to receipts, bills, and bank statements. They can serve as proof of your innocence if the government audits and investigates you for PPP fraud.
For example, if you apply for PPP loan forgiveness, the government may think you are lying. You will need proper evidence, like receipts, bills, etc, invoices, to prove you spent the PPP funds on necessary expenses that qualify.
Could there be immigration consequences?
Fraud over $10,000 is an aggravated felony. Non-citizens convicted of PPP loan fraud could be deported.
It’s critical if you are facing PPP loan fraud charges, you speak to our attorneys.
The SBA is a government agency, and defrauding the agency is the same as defrauding the government. It is likely to lead to jail time, and can have huge financial consequences. It’s likely if you’re accused of SBA fraud, you’ll need a criminal attorney who can help defend you and explain your possible defense strategies. Spodek Law Group, PC, can provide you with the aggressive and knowledgable legal help you need to avoid consequences associated with a fraud related conviction.
What’s SBA Fraud
SBA offers a number of programs and benefits to enforce companies. It helps small business owners succeed. If there is fraud suspected, the SBA will work with the DOJ and IG to seek redress for fraud, or misrepresentation made. The SBA prosecutes defendants who give misleading statements, make material omissions, and submit false information or engage in other dishonest behavior in conjunction with the Small Business administration program.
If you make fraudulent statements to participate in the HUBZone program to get benefits, this can result in jail time and financial fines. If you submit false information to the SBA, this can result in severe fines. If you provide false statements to qualify for loans guaranteed/provided by the SBA, this is another issue which can get you in trouble. If you make fraudulent statements in connection with Section 8A programs, this can also result in fraud charges against you.
If you divert SBA funds to larger corporations through fraudulent means, this is another ground for investigation. The inspector general of the SBA has described this as the most important challenge facing the SBA.
We Can Help
Spodek Law Group, PC, help with all forms of SBA fraud cases. We encourage you to contact us for a risk free consultation in order to learn more about your rights.
How to hire a PPP Fraud defense attorney
It’s important you hire a knowledgable attorney who has experience handling federal cases when you’re facing a PPP investigation, or indictment. The DOJ is casting a VERY WIDE NET when it comes to PPP Fraud investigations, or other alleged acts. No amount of abuse is being tolerated when it comes to the PPP program, and the government is doing a very thorough job of investigating businesses that took fraudulent funds through the federal program. You could face penalties, and criminal prosecution, by the government. Even if you believe you complied with the terms of the loan program, the DOJ’s PPP loan program has a very wide scope, and it could result in a federal criminal investigation. This can wreak havoc on your personal life, and professional life. You want individualized legal representation when facing federal fraud allegations in PPP cases. No two PPP fraud cases are alike, which is why you want to hire an attorney who can provide concierge and individualized attention. The fact is, the Spodek Law Group is the right law firm to hire in situations like this.
Why You Need A PPP Loan Fraud Lawyer
If you received a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program in 2020, you no doubt used it to keep your business afloat. However, due to many accusations of fraud being tossed about by federal investigators and lenders across the country, there is a chance federal prosecutors could at some point decide to charge you with PPP loan fraud. Should this happen, it will be imperative you immediately hire a PPP loan fraud lawyer who has an in-depth knowledge of the CARES Act and PPP to make sure your rights are protected throughout the process. Otherwise, you could find yourself not only being threatened with fines and prison, but possibly being convicted of a crime you did not commit.
Because the PPP ran out of its $350 billion much faster than anyone anticipated, the government has basically decided tremendous amounts of fraud have taken place across the United States. This is bad news for business owners who were recipients of PPP loans, since they are undoubtedly under much greater scrutiny regarding their financial activities. As a result, investigators and prosecutors are scrambling to not only look over the PPP loan information contained in government databases, but are also trying to examine any large purchases made by PPP recipients in 2020. Thus, even if you got a PPP loan and used the funds in the proper manner, you may be facing allegations of fraud if you also made a large purchase shortly after getting your money. For example, if you bought a new car or home, the government will look very closely at how you paid for these items. If you are being aggressively pursued by the federal government over how you used your PPP funds, speak to a PPP loan fraud lawyer who can examine your case, explain possible scenarios, and put your mind at ease.
Chaos and Confusion
While the federal government is trying to blame business owners for misusing PPP loans, the reality is that the federal government itself is to blame. By putting the program together in haste, failing to clearly convey the rules and regulations surrounding how PPP loans were to be applied for and used, and other areas that were not well-thought-out beforehand, business owners have had little guidance from the very beginning. Yet despite this, government investigators and lawyers have tried to pressure business owners into admitting they committed fraud. Should you give in to this pressure and even hint that you may have committed fraud of any kind regarding your PPP loan, the government will seize on this and file charges against you. To avoid this scenario and legal headaches that will follow, hire a PPP loan fraud lawyer as soon as you receive word you are under investigation.
Feedback from PPP Lenders
While the federal government would no doubt be looking at possible PPP loan fraud due to the speed at which the $350 billion in funds were depleted, they are also doing so based on information they are receiving from banks and other lenders. As the U.S. Treasury Department has asked for feedback from lenders nationwide about how the program worked, many banks are telling investigators they believe many loan applications may have been fraudulent. Because of this, chances are your PPP loan application is undergoing a second look from Treasury Department officials. Unfortunately, federal fraud charges could soon follow. For example, if you were not clear regarding PPP rules and stated incorrect information regarding the number of employees you have, your payroll expenses, or other areas, this could be construed as an attempt to defraud the government. Should you be contacted by investigators and threatened with fraud charges, don’t feel as if you need to immediately start talking to authorities. In fact, your next step should be to contact a PPP loan fraud lawyer so they can take over any communications with the federal government.
PPP Audits and Investigations
In many cases before fraud charges are brought against a company by the federal government, the company will have an audit of its PPP funds done by the FBI, Department of Justice, or other federal agencies. While this will be unnerving, there are certain things you should remember. First, try not to make false statements or withhold any information you are required by law to disclose to federal investigators, since this can lead to charges of fraud and other crimes being levied against you. However, also be sure not to incriminate yourself by revealing information that could be potentially harmful to your case. Since it can be very tricky trying to figure out what you should or should not say to investigators in these situations, don’t try to go it alone and make mistakes that create an even worse situation than the one you are now facing. By contacting a PPP loan fraud lawyer immediately upon being notified on an upcoming audit, you can be much better prepared when federal investigators come calling.
Even if you are glad to have received a PPP loan and feel as if you applied for and used whatever funds you received correctly, that may not stop federal agents and prosecutors from making serious allegations against you. If and when this happens, don’t expect them to change their minds and let you off the legal hook. To ensure your case is resolved to your satisfaction, schedule a consultation today with a PPP loan fraud lawyer.