Possible Charges for PPP Loan Fraud
If you have been charged in Florida with a PPP crime, call The Wiseman Law Firm today!
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is designed to allow small businesses to keep their workers on payroll. The program provides federally guaranteed loans up to a maximum amount of $10 million for eligible businesses. More than 10 million loans totaling more than $750 billion have been issued under PPP, which has been open to applications since August of 2020. The program is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These loans have played a major role in helping small businesses cover payroll, rent, utilities, and other expenses as the Coronavirus affected their earnings.
However, where there is money being given, some individuals will try to take it unrightfully, and we have seen this play out with PPP loans. Businesses who apply for a PPP loan are required to meet specific requirements, and there are limits on how they can spend their funds. If a business violates one of these requirements while obtaining a PPP loan, they would be held liable to charges of PPP fraud. Some of the ways businesses have committed PPP fraud include:
- Making a false statement on the PPP loan application
- Applying for PPP loan money from multiple lenders
- Using PPP loan money for unapproved purposes
- Submitting a false certification for PPP loan forgiveness
- Being dishonest during a PPP loan audit or investigation
If you lie on a PPP loan or omit information in this way, you can face grave penalties and a variety of criminal charges. Some of the charges you might face include:
- Bank fraud
If the lie on your PPP loan is counted as deceiving a financial institution to profit, then you can be charged with bank fraud under U.S. Code Title 18 U.S.C. 1344. Bank fraud is considered a white collar crime, and the penalty varies from situation to situation. Typically, for an individual facing a misdemeanor for this crime, the bank fraud punishment can be up to one year in jail and up to $4000 in fines.
- Wire fraud
If you have been found to use an interstate communications device, like a telephone, to defraud an institution in an attempt to gain funds from a PPP loan, you can be considered guilty of wire fraud. Penalties for wire fraud include a prison sentence of up to 20 years and restitution to those who were impacted.
- Conspiracy to commit fraud
If you lie on a PPP loan in collaboration with another individual, you are more likely to be charged with conspiracy to commit fraud. This illegal act involves two or more people conspiring either to commit any offense against the U.S., and the charge comes with up to five years in federal prison and additional fees.
- False statements to a financial institution
It is illegal to make false statements to a financial institution, so if you were to lie on a PPP loan, you could be charged with this federal crime. This act is criminalized under section 1014 and if convicted, you can face quite a hefty fine along with imprisonment for up to 30 years.
What to Do if You Are Under Investigation for PPP Loan Fraud
If you are under investigation of any kind, it is important to be careful with your words. As you are probably aware, times when you need to be represented in a positive light are the best times to hire a lawyer. The words you say can and will be held against you. You might think you are telling the truth or clearing your case to the officer, only to realize that you have incriminated yourself. It is important to avoid immediately responding and doing so in the wrong way. However, the problem will not go away on its own, and consulting with an experienced lawyer like the team at The Wiseman Law Firm will help you navigate it. If you think you are facing PPP charges, we can take the following steps to help:
- Keeping a record of business and personal records and making copies of them to help support your case
- Communicating with the necessary individuals involved with the case to gather information that will help us produce the most favorable outcome for the case
If you are arrested for PPP loan fraud, some of the best routes we can provide for defense include:
- Lack of intent
In order to charge you with PP fraud, the government will have to prove that you intentionally misrepresented a fact on a PPP loan application to receive more money. It is not every day that a business owner needs to file these forms, and it is natural that there could be some confusion.
- The PPP loan was used for legitimate purposes
If you signed up for a PPP loan application, you would have been required to certify that the funds would be used for “business-related” purposes under PPP loan requirements. This means that the government is looking to prosecute those who use PPP loans for extraneous purposes.
Another factor that the federal government will be required to prove is that you are the correct person they are pursuing for committing this crime. A PPP application requires the business owner to file specific applications, and this requires the government to prove that you were the person who submitted the application and that you received the funding requested. If we can make a case for that there is not substantial evidence for this, you will appear more favorable in the eyes of the court.
If you are worried about PPP fraud charges, the team at The Wiseman Law Firm can provide the legal support you need. Give us a call at (407) 708-9127 or contact us online to get started.