Launched in April, 2020, as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was intended to help businesses stay afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic. The PPP loans provided funding for payroll costs and employee benefits, rent, utilities, mortgage interest, and worker protection costs related to COVID-19 and were forgiven if the business used the money to pay for payroll and other specific expenses within a designated period of time.
By May 31, 2021, when the program ended, the Small Business Administration had approved 11,823,594 loans for a total of $799,832,866,520, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) had brought criminal charges against more than 200 individuals for fraud related to the loans. According to the DOJ, this is just a beginning. The department has promised to be “vigilant in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting wrongdoing related to the virus.”
If you are being investigated, think you may be investigated, or have been charged with PPP loan fraud in Florida, you need to be very careful in how you handle the situation. You could be charged with any number of federal financial crimes, including bank fraud, wire fraud, disaster-relief fraud, and money laundering, with very serious consequences for your future. Indeed, our clients have also been charged with identity theft offenses, which carry minimum mandatory prison sentences in federal court. You need an experienced federal defense attorney to advise you, protect your rights and defend you against serious federal crime allegations.
Attorney Jonathan Rose has more than twenty years of experience as an attorney, including work as a prosecutor, litigator and defense attorney. He knows how the federal system works and will put his knowledge and experience to work fighting to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome for you.
What Is Considered PPP Loan Fraud?
The Fraud Section of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice has been aggressively investigating and prosecuting individuals suspected of PPP loan fraud. The cases typically involve borrowers who took advantage of the relaxed application and qualification processes and submitted fake documents or false information, used stolen identities, created fake companies and used the loan money to finance anything from private jets to vacation homes.
According to the DOJ, PPP loan fraud encompasses a wide variety of activities, including:
- Inflating payroll expenses in order to obtain larger loans than the business was really qualified for.
- Reviving dormant corporations and purchasing shell companies to obtain multiple loans.
- Submitting identical loan applications and supporting documents under the names of different companies.
- Laundering the funds obtained by fraudulent means through numerous bank accounts.
- Using loan proceeds for prohibited purposes, such as the purchase of houses, cars, jewelry, and other luxury items.
If you are found to have engaged in any of these activities or it is discovered that you sought PPP loan forgiveness when you were not eligible for it or provided false information during a PPP fraud investigation, you could face very serious federal charges, including bank fraud, wire fraud, making false statements to a federal agent/entity, making false statements to a financial institution, money laundering, or identity theft.
These are very serious federal offenses that can carry harsh sentences. If convicted, you could face severe penalties. The maximum penalty for a bank fraud conviction, for example, is 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, while the maximum penalty for money laundering is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
If you are being investigated for PPP loan fraud or have already been charged with a related federal financial crime, it is crucial to get advice from an experienced federal defense attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Jonathan Rose is well prepared to provide the advice, protection and defense you need.
What to Do If You Are Being Investigated for PPP Loan Fraud
Federal agents are specially trained to investigate and audit businesses suspected of financial crimes, so if you think you could be the target of an investigation, it is in your best interest to get help from an experienced defense attorney right away. If you make incriminating statements, those statements can be used against you. If you make a false statement, you can be charged with making false statements to a federal agent/agency. If you destroy or alter documents, you could be charged with obstruction of justice.
Instead of taking a chance that any of these consequences occur, make sure you have an attorney who can advise you on your best course of action and protect your rights. You have the right to be represented by legal counsel during a criminal investigation, and you have the right to remain silent. It may, in fact, be in your best interest to invoke your constitutional right to remain silent and count on your attorney to respond to the investigative team’s questions on your behalf. Your attorney’s ability to communicate effectively with federal agents and prosecutors could be crucial in avoiding additional serious charges and achieving the best possible outcome for you.
Get Experienced Help from a Florida PPP Loan Fraud Attorney
If you think you might be investigated for PPP loan fraud or if you have been targeted or charged with a crime related to PPP loan fraud, it is crucial to obtain legal assistance from a qualified federal defense attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Jonathan Rose has the legal experience, knowledge and skills you need to protect your rights during this stressful, confusing time.
Get the help you need from an experienced federal defense lawyer prepared to fight for your rights and your future when you are meeting with federal agents, submitting required documents or information, dealing with prosecutors or standing trial.
Attorney Jonathan Rose will fight to protect your rights, your freedom and your future. Call 407-894-4555 or submit the form on our website to get the legal help you need.