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South Carolina PPP and EIDL Loan Fraud Lawyers

Navigating PPP and EIDL Loan Fraud Charges in South Carolina

The COVID-19 pandemic led to an unprecedented amount of government aid being made available to businesses and individuals. Programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program distributed billions of dollars in loans and grants. While these programs provided a lifeline for many during an incredibly difficult time, they also created opportunities for fraud. Allegations of PPP and EIDL fraud have been rampant across the country, including here in South Carolina.

If you or your business are being investigated or charged with PPP or EIDL fraud, it’s critical that you consult with an experienced white collar criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. These cases can be complex, but an attorney well-versed in federal fraud laws may be able to get charges reduced or even dismissed. They can also advise you on potential defenses and make sure your rights are protected throughout the legal process.

Common Types of Alleged PPP and EIDL Loan Fraud

Some of the most common fraudulent activities alleged in PPP and EIDL cases include:

  • Falsifying information on loan applications such as number of employees, payroll expenses, or revenue losses.
  • Using PPP funds for non-allowable expenses like personal purchases or paying down existing debt.
  • Applying for multiple PPP loans for the same business from different lenders.
  • Lying about having an existing business in order to obtain EIDL grants or loans.
  • Using stolen identities to apply for fraudulent loans or grants.

It’s important to understand that simply making mistakes on these applications or misunderstanding the rules may not necessarily rise to the level of criminal fraud. Prosecutors must be able to prove you knowingly provided false information or deliberately misused loan funds. An attorney can assess the evidence against you and build a defense against criminal charges if warranted.

Penalties for PPP and EIDL Fraud in South Carolina

Potential penalties for federal COVID-19 relief fraud depend on the specific charges and circumstances of your case. Some possibilities include:

  • Up to 30 years in prison and $1 million fines for major fraud offenses.
  • Up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 fines for wire fraud or bank fraud.
  • Up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 fines for other fraud charges.
  • Restitution for the amount of any ill-gotten loan funds.

In addition to criminal penalties, those convicted also face serious reputational damage, potential loss of professional licenses, and exclusion from future government contracts or loans. For businesses, the consequences of a conviction can be catastrophic. It’s critical to have an experienced legal advocate on your side fighting to avoid these worst-case outcomes.

Recent PPP and EIDL Fraud Cases in South Carolina

Federal prosecutors in South Carolina have ramped up investigations and charges related to COVID relief fraud over the past two years. Some notable recent cases include:

  • In September 2022, Travis Crosby was convicted of conspiring to obtain a $300,000 PPP loan using falsified documents. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
  • Last December, Ronald Hunt of Greenville was sentenced to over 2 years in prison for submitting fraudulent PPP and EIDL loan applications.
  • In August 2021, the DOJ charged two Columbia residents with fabricating employee and payroll numbers to obtain over $1 million in PPP loans.

These cases highlight how seriously prosecutors are taking COVID relief fraud in South Carolina. Anyone being questioned or charged should seek legal counsel immediately to explore their options. An attorney may be able to intervene early and prevent charges from being filed altogether in some situations.

Strategies for Defending Against PPP and EIDL Fraud Allegations

When facing allegations of COVID relief fraud, possible strategies an experienced attorney may pursue include:

  • Attacking flaws in the government’s evidence – Many fraud cases depend heavily on documentation. If this evidence is incomplete or inaccurate, prosecutors may not be able to prove intent to defraud.
  • Arguing lack of criminal intent – Honest mistakes or misunderstandings of program rules may undermine arguments that you deliberately tried to commit fraud.
  • Highlighting mitigating circumstances – Factors like economic duress during COVID or reliance on outside advice could weaken the case against you.
  • Negotiating plea bargains or settlements – An attorney may be able to negotiate a favorable deal avoiding harsh penalties and collateral consequences.
  • Cooperating with authorities – Providing substantial assistance in investigating others may persuade prosecutors to drop or reduce charges.

Every case is unique, so there are no guarantees when defending against fraud allegations. But an experienced attorney intimately familiar with federal law, prosecutorial practices, and viable defenses can give you the best chance at the most favorable outcome possible.

Why You Should Hire an Attorney Immediately if Facing Allegations

Here are some of the top reasons why it’s critical to engage an attorney right away if you’re being investigated or charged with COVID relief fraud in South Carolina:

  • An attorney can intervene early to possibly prevent criminal charges from being filed.
  • They can advise you on your rights and guide you on how to engage (or not engage) with investigators.
  • They will thoroughly examine the evidence and start building an effective defense strategy.
  • They can represent you in negotiations with prosecutors to seek charge dismissals or reductions.
  • They can argue for bail and ensure you aren’t detained unfairly pre-trial.
  • They will identify and advise you on possible options besides going to trial.
  • They can hire investigators and experts to strengthen your defense if a trial becomes necessary.

Navigating a federal fraud investigation is scary, but you don’t have to go it alone. The risks are too high. An experienced attorney can provide skilled guidance each step of the way.

Choosing the Right Fraud Defense Attorney in South Carolina

Not all defense attorneys have the skills and experience to handle complex federal fraud cases effectively. When researching counsel, look for a lawyer with specific expertise in cases like:

  • PPP, EIDL, and other COVID relief program fraud
  • Allegations of bank fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud
  • Tax fraud, healthcare fraud, government and procurement fraud
  • White collar criminal defense at the federal level

Trusted attorneys have successfully defended clients against all types of federal fraud charges in South Carolina for decades. They offer free case evaluations so you can discuss your situation in confidence at no cost.

Don’t take chances with your future. If facing COVID relief fraud charges, the single most important thing you can do is hire an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer immediately. An attorney may be key to avoiding devastating penalties so you can move forward with your life.

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