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New Hampshire PPP – SBA – EIDL Loan Fraud Lawyers

New Hampshire PPP Loan Fraud Lawyers

Getting charged with PPP loan fraud can be scary. The government don’t play around when it comes to allegations of fraud involving COVID relief money. But there are good lawyers out there who can help. This article will break down the basics of PPP loan fraud charges in New Hampshire and how an experienced attorney can defend you.

What is PPP Loan Fraud?

The Paycheck Protection Program was part of the CARES Act passed in 2020 to help small businesses survive the COVID pandemic. PPP loans were basically free money that businesses could use to cover payroll and other expenses. As long as they used the loans as intended, the loans would be forgiven by the Small Business Administration.But of course, some folks saw this as an opportunity to game the system and make some easy money. Prosecutors go after two main types of PPP loan fraud:

  • Application fraud – Lying on your application about your business, number of employees, or payroll expenses to get a bigger loan amount.
  • Misuse of funds – Getting the loan but then spending it on stuff you’re not supposed to, like personal expenses or paying off other debts.

Either of these can land you in hot water if the feds catch on. Some common PPP loan fraud schemes include:

  • Applying for multiple loans for the same business (known as “loan stacking”)
  • Creating fake businesses or employees to apply for loans
  • Colluding with a lender to rubber stamp applications without proper vetting
  • Transferring loan money to personal accounts and using it for cars, vacations, etc.

The penalties for PPP loan fraud can be severe. You may face charges of bank fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, or making false statements. Fines can be up to $1 million and prison sentences up to 30 years per charge.

Recent PPP Fraud Cases in New Hampshire

New Hampshire has seen its fair share of PPP loan fraud cases over the past couple years. Here are a few notable examples:

  • In September 2022, Joshua Leavitt of Northwood, NH pleaded guilty to bank fraud and wire fraud. He fraudulently applied for over $3.5 million in PPP loans for a business he didn’t actually own or operate. He faces up to 40 years in prison. 
  • In June 2021, two men from Manchester were charged with wire fraud and money laundering for allegedly using PPP loans for personal purchases like Rolex watches and Las Vegas trips. They obtained over $600,000 in loans.
  • In May 2021, a Hudson, NH man was charged with wire fraud and money laundering for obtaining $660,000 in PPP loans and using the money to pay off personal credit card bills and other existing loans.
  • A federal grand jury indicted a Salem business owner in December 2020 for allegedly obtaining $1.7 million in fraudulent PPP loans and using the money for personal expenses.

As you can see, New Hampshire prosecutors are aggressively going after PPP fraud of all sizes. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the state has said prosecuting COVID relief fraud is a top priority.

How a Lawyer Can Defend Against PPP Fraud Charges

Given the complex web of federal regulations around PPP loans, having an experienced white collar criminal defense attorney is crucial. A knowledgeable lawyer can thoroughly examine the evidence and identify any legal defenses that may get charges reduced or dismissed.Here are some of the ways a lawyer may defend PPP loan fraud charges:

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  • No intent to defraud – For fraud charges, prosecutors must prove you knowingly tried to deceive. Your lawyer can argue you made an honest mistake or misunderstood the loan rules.
  • Duress or coercion – If someone else pressured you into committing fraud, that’s a potential defense.
  • Minimal loss – The dollar amount of the loan and the actual loss to lenders affects sentencing. Your lawyer can demonstrate you used most of the funds properly.
  • Cooperation and repayment – Offering to cooperate with investigators and repay any misused funds can help secure a favorable plea deal.
  • Violation of rights – If evidence was obtained illegally through improper searches or interrogations, your lawyer can get it suppressed.
  • Statute of limitations – There are time limits on bringing fraud charges that a lawyer can use to get charges dismissed if too much time has passed.

Having an experienced federal crimes lawyer who knows how to navigate complex PPP loan regulations is key. They can thoroughly investigate your case and build an aggressive defense to fight the charges.

How to Find the Best PPP Fraud Lawyer in New Hampshire

If you or your business are being investigated or charged for PPP loan fraud in New Hampshire, it’s critical to find the right lawyer quickly. Here are some tips:

  • Search for lawyers with specific experience defending PPP fraud cases. Check their website or call and ask about their background handling these types of cases.
  • Look for someone well-versed in federal white collar criminal defense. PPP fraud falls under federal jurisdiction so you want a lawyer used to dealing with FBI, IRS, SBA and DOJ investigators and prosecutors.
  • Consider lawyers located in New Hampshire. They will have familiarity with local prosecutors and courts which can provide an advantage.
  • Meet with lawyers before retaining them. Discuss your case details to get an idea of their defense strategy and whether you feel comfortable with them.
  • Ask about legal fees upfront. Rates can vary widely so understand what you’ll be paying and how it will be billed.
  • Look for excellent communicator. You’ll want a lawyer who can clearly explain the complex issues in your case and keeps you informed every step of the way.
  • Don’t just choose the cheapest lawyer. Balance cost with experience – the cheapest option may end up costing you more in the long run.
  • Check reviews from past clients to gauge the lawyer’s responsiveness, legal skills and ability to get positive outcomes.

With the right legal guidance, even serious PPP fraud charges can potentially be overcome or mitigated. Connect with a skilled New Hampshire defense lawyer as soon as possible for help protecting your future.

Frequently Asked Questions About PPP Loan Fraud

What are some common mistakes people make when applying for PPP loans?

Some common mistakes include:

  • Overestimating payroll expenses and number of employees
  • Applying for multiple loans through different lenders
  • Using inaccurate NAICS codes that don’t match their business activity
  • Failing to account for affiliation rules and including affiliated business employees
  • Not retaining proper documentation of payroll costs and FTEs
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