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When the Coronavirus (COVID-19) hit the United States, quarantine rules kept many people at home in an effort to protect each other from the virus. Businesses struggled, and many threatened to go under while bills continued, but no business was taking place. So, to help, the United States Government drafted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to support the people whose livelihoods were being harmed by the effects fighting the virus was having on their businesses.
Unfortunately, thousands of businesses may have taken advantage of the program and submitted fraudulent claims or used the funds provided by Paycheck Protection Program in ways they were not intended for.
Under the False Claims Act (FCA), it is illegal to knowingly submit false claims to the government and private citizens with knowledge of fraud or abuse may be able to file a “qui tam” whistleblower suit. Whistleblowers may be eligible for a significant portion of the money recovered and be protected from retaliation for filing a claim.
If you have insider information about fraud or abuse of a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, The Cashman Law Firm can help.
Opportunities for Fraud Followed
A part of the (CARES Act) was something called the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Around a trillion dollars was distributed to businesses as a form of financial assistance. The government also offered loans to small businesses through the Small Business Association (SBA).
There was only minimal supervision when checking the credentials of the recipients receiving the loans. Possibly even less when it came to the disbursement of the loan money. A perfect storm was created for many individuals to participate in bank fraud.
Because of this, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating the applications for loans by many recipients. The DOJ is analyzing mistakes to ensure they were mistakes and not deliberate attempts to defraud the federal government. If they conclude that intentional illegal actions occurred, federal charges might apply.
How PPP Loan Fraud Occurs
Several things were done to game the Paycheck Protection Program and raised red flags to the federal government that many companies were defrauding the government. The federal investigation is looking closely at those applications. Some of the issues they are looking for are listed below:
- Submitting applications for multiple loans
- Misinterpreting material facts
- Using federal funds improperly
- Obstructing audits and federal investigations
There have been many reports of loan recipients buying luxury cars, real estate, and jewelry. Identity theft was also rampant during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have knowledge of abuse or fraud of the PPP program, an attorney can help you file a claim.
How a PPP Fraud Whistleblower Suit Works
False PPP loans were awarded in all sizes and taxpayers may have been defrauded of as much as $100 billion dollars. For smaller claims, you can submit a complaint to the Office of Inspector General (OIG), which will investigate the allegations and report the violation to the U.S. Attorney General if it determines that fraud occurred.
For larger claims, however, it is in citizens’ an attorney can help file a “qui tam” claim under the False Claims Act (FCA). Under the FCA, whistleblowers may be eligible for up to %30 percent of the funds recovered by the government. Fraudulent business owners may also be required to pay whistleblowers’ expenses (including attorneys fees), statutory penalties, and triple damages.
However, proving fraud under the FCA requires evidence that the fraudulent party knowingly submitted the fraudulent application and received funds that they were ineligible for or used in fraudulent ways. Additionally, a frivolous case may result in you owing attorneys fees or other penalties. Therefore, if you suspect or have evidence of fraud, it is in your best interests to speak with an attorney to validate your claim and help you collect the evidence you need to be successful.
Why Choose the Cashman Law Firm?
- Personalized care is an essential part of the service we provide. You will receive direct communication with prompt and efficient response times.
- We have a stellar reputation and take the time to get to know our clients. We explore every detail of your case and craft a compelling defense that will benefit your company.
- A track record of success, with the successful resolution of hundreds of cases, has given us the experience we need to best represent you.
If you have information regarding the fraud or abuse of a Paycheck Protection Program loan, call today. We handle all whistleblower cases on contingency, meaning we charge no fees for our service unless we recover compensation on your behalf.