The height of the coronavirus pandemic put millions of Americans into financially vulnerable situations. To avoid a complete economic disaster, the government had no choice but to issue stimulus relief checks to citizens. Businesses that were floundering were also given the option of seeking out relief funds, too.
While this proved to be invaluable help for many, some individuals did take advantage of the relief funds and used them in illegal and immoral ways. One such individual, a 67-year-old Albany resident, recently pleaded guilty to obtaining over 32 different pandemic relief loans that amounted to about $1.6 million.
According to reports from the Justice Department, the suspect admitted to getting over $1.6 million from the Paycheck Protection Program between April 30, 2020 and June 11, 2021. The money, which was distributed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, was meant to help businesses stay afloat and pay employees during the crisis. Instead, they were issued to the suspect, the suspect’s family members, and even some of the suspect’s acquaintances.
The suspect obtained the money by lying on loan applications. By doing so, she committed PPP fraud.
Covid-19 Relief Fraud: What You Need to Know
Fraud might not sound too serious, but it’s taken very seriously in the state of New York and by the federal government. The accused suspect is now facing up to 20 years in prison, but the sentencing hearing won’t be held until October 6, 2022. If you’ve recently been charged with relief fraud or you’re afraid you might get arrested for it, then it’s important to understand what you’re up against.
The U.S. Justice Department is currently seeking citizens who committed relief fraud. They’ve already charged over 1,000 citizens. It’s estimated that a whopping $1.1 billion was lost due to these instances of fraud. You could get accused of relief fraud if you lied to receive relief funds from:
- The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
- The Economic Injury Disaster Loans
- Unemployment Insurance
Depending on your situation, you could also get accused of additional crimes on top of the relief fraud. For instance, if you stole an identity to get unemployment benefits, then you could face two separate charges: relief fraud and identity theft. If you get convicted, then not only will you end up suffering criminal penalties, but you’ll also be barred from getting relief funds in the future.
Are You Looking for a Criminal Defense Attorney in New York?
Did you take out Covid-19 relief money? Are you worried that you could get accused of fraud for mishandling or misusing your funds? Don’t be scared, get prepared by consulting with the best criminal defense attorney in New York about your situation. Here at Bukh Law Firm, we can help you understand whether your actions rise to the legal threshold of fraud. We can also help you determine your next steps if you’ve already been arrested or accused of committing Covid-19 relief fraud.
Are you ready to speak one-on-one with an attorney? Contact us now to discuss your situation in more detail with our best attorneys.