At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government rolled out a number of programs to help struggling individuals and businesses stay afloat during unprecedented times. Millions of Americans applied for and received these benefits. However, the government has recently started to investigate cases of COVID-19-related fraud.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans were designed to help businesses pay their employees throughout the pandemic, rather than laying off workers. However, some individuals obtained these loans using fraudulent documents and false claims. As recently as last week, people have been arrested and charged for PPP loan fraud.
If found guilty of committing PPP fraud, individuals face federal charges for:
- Bank fraud
- Wire fraud
- Aggravated identity theft
- Tax evasion
- Making false statements
Many individuals utilized unemployment insurance during the most intense first months of the pandemic. However, like PPP fraud, some individuals obtained these benefits illegally. Others may have started with unemployment payments legally but continued receiving payments for longer than they should have.
Examples of unemployment fraud include:
- Continuing to receive unemployment benefits after returning to work
- Not reporting days you worked at a part-time job
- Reporting jobs that you have applied for that you have not applied for
- Working off the books
Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Fraud
EIDL loans were also offered to small businesses with less than 500 employees so the business could handle immediate business expenses such as payroll, accounts payable, and any debt. If found guilty of fraudulently obtaining an EIDL, you face charges for grand larceny, forgery, and more serious felonies.
Working with a Federal Fraud Defense Attorney
If you are contacted by a federal agency in connection to a COVID-19 fraud crime, it’s crucial that you contact Weintraub & Alper Legal right away. The federal government is putting more and more focus into prosecuting individuals who committed fraud during the pandemic. Our defense attorneys want to ensure your rights are protected and that you have the best defense possible against these serious accusations.