The Payment Protection Program came into existence last March as part of the federal government’s relief efforts for the ongoing health crisis in the United States and the rest of the world.
The Program, which is funded through taxpayer dollars, provides loans on very favorable terms to owners of qualified small business which might be suffering because of the recent economic circumstances.
Mis-steps in applying for relief can lead to criminal trouble
Getting these loans is not automatic. A business owner will have to fill out paperwork and, when doing so, must be entirely truthful and forthright. Federal agents may consider any mis-statement or omission to be evidence of fraud. Likewise, the owner also has to put the
Based on a recent count, federal prosecutors had filed criminal charges against 30 people in connection with allegations that they mis-used funds from the Payment Protection Program.
In most cases, authorities accused the business owners of falsely inflating the number of employees in their businesses, if not outright making up the fact that they had employees in their business.
With a larger number of employees, the business could receive more relief money.
Authorities say that many business owners whom they have charged intended to use the money, or actually did use the money, for personal purposes not related to the operation of their businesses.
Any business owner who receives PPP benefits can be accused
Some of the pending cases involve some pretty flagrant facts, but a lot less serious mistakes can trigger federal fraud charges.
For instance, since a person’s criminal record can impact whether he or she can receive a loan through the Program, not reporting a conviction could lead to a fraud charge.
On the whole, owners have to be very careful to fill out their paperwork correctly when seeking a loan through the Payment Protection Program and make sure to manage the loan funds correctly.
Sometimes, federal authorities might mistake bad recordkeeping or simple carelessness for fraud, both when it comes to the Payment Protection Program and otherwise. This is one reason why a person accused of fraud should evaluate his or her options carefully.