The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a loan program created to help small businesses experiencing financial distress due to the pandemic. Born of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), PPP loans are Small Business Administration (SBA) loans that provided billions of dollars of relief to allow eligible businesses to keep their workforce intact. But PPP fraud has resulted in criminal charges against more than 200 individuals since lenders began processing PPP loans on April 3, 2020.
If you have been charged with PPP fraud, it is in your best interest to seek immediate legal counsel from a defense attorney with extensive experience in this very specific area of law. Our skilled legal team at the Law Office of Nayib Hassan has been protecting the rights of individuals charged with crimes for countless years. We have an impressive track record of getting clients’ charges reduced or dismissed entirely, and we will fight tirelessly to protect your rights. Contact our PPP fraud lawyers today at (305) 403-7323 for a confidential consultation about your case.
Understanding SBA & PPP Loans
The PPP/SBA loan program provides loans to eligible small businesses and individuals whose businesses have been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Those eligible for the first round of loans included:
• Businesses with no more than 500 employees;
• Sole proprietors, self-employed individuals, and independent contractors; and
Following the signing of the second stimulus bill on December 27, 2020, the PPP received billions of dollars in additional funding. Those eligible to receive a second loan include:
• Anyone who received a loan from the first disbursement and has used it for authorized uses only;
• Small businesses with no more than 300 employees; and
• Businesses or individuals that can show a 25 percent or greater reduction in gross receipts between 2019 and 2020, during comparable quarters.
If you received a PPP loan, at least 60 percent of that loan must be used for employee payroll and benefits, such as salary, wages, and commissions, vacation or sick leave, medical benefits, and taxes assessed on employee compensation. Remaining funds can be used for rent, utilities, mortgage interest payments, supplier costs, and other approved expenses. If you accidentally misused a portion of your loan funds and are now being investigated for PPP/SBA fraud, a Miami Lakes PPP Fraud lawyer can help.
What is SBA/PPP Fraud Investigation?
According to a Project On Government Oversight (POGO) review of the more than 119 criminal cases related to PPP fraud through April 2021, those charged are alleged to have sought—by fraudulent means—nearly $445 million in loans through the program. And of that amount, roughly $246 million went out the door to those accused of fraud.
Up until this point, PPP/SBA fraud investigations have focused on obvious and blatant instances of fraud in which applicants made up fake companies, used funds to buy luxury cars, or grossly inflated payroll expenses. But investigators are developing new methods for identifying more sophisticated fraud. Those convicted are likely to face both civil and criminal penalties.
Scrutiny of PPP and SBA loans is expected to continue indefinitely. In fact, the Small Business Administration (SBA) recently announced that it plans to audit all PPP loans above two million dollars. It will also perform audits on smaller loans at its discretion. A FL defense lawyer can help you determine how to proceed.
What to Do If Your Business Is Being Audited
If you are being investigated for PPP or SBA fraud, it is critical to contact an experienced PPP fraud lawyer immediately. A conviction for PPP fraud carries serious penalties and hefty fines. You may also be charged with additional offenses, such as making false statements, and bank or wire fraud, which can carry a prison term of up to 30 years and a fine of up to $1 million.
Although it is always in your best interest to seek legal counsel if you are facing fraud charges, this is particularly true of PPP fraud. The SBA and other government investigators are doing everything possible to make an example out of businesses that fraudulently obtained PPP loans. Punishments have been severe. A Miami Lakes PPP fraud defense lawyer can help.
Your attorney will review your loan application, deal directly with investigators so that you don’t have to, and review all necessary documentation. You can help your PPP lawyer build a strong case in your favor by:
• Gathering important documents related to your loan application, business expenses, and employee information;
• Listing name and contact information for all employees included in your loan calculations; and
• Detailing how you spent the loan funds.
The sooner you seek legal counsel and the more information you can provide to your attorney, the better your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome. Even if the amount of your PPP loan was relatively low, a conviction for fraud will result in a criminal record and may lead to significant time behind bars. Furthermore, having a criminal record can negatively impact your ability to get housing or a job for years. Do not attempt to fight these charges without the guidance of a skilled criminal defense attorney by your side.
Contact Our Miami Lakes PPP Fraud Attorney Today
If you have been charged with PPP or SBA fraud, the experienced legal team at the Law Office of Nayib Hassan can help. We have successfully defended countless clients against charges of fraud, including those involving bank and wire fraud, and making false statements. Our highly skilled, tenacious PPP fraud lawyers will fight aggressively to protect your rights, reputation, and freedom. Contact the Law Office of Nayib Hassan today at (305) 403-7323 to schedule a confidential consultation about your case.