Now that the second round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has come to a close, the Department of Justice has started arresting and charging people suspected of having committed fraud with regards to their PPP applications. There has been a substantial crackdown of fraud related to PPP and CARES Act fraud by the federal government. These investigations focus on individuals who own businesses and sought to receive funding through various federal programs made available during the coronavirus pandemic.
Given the circumstances surrounding the PPP and CARES Act money and the fact that these cases are investigated by the federal government and prosecuted in federal courts, these are extremely serious charges that carry serious and unforgiving consequences like prison time and hefty fines.
Federal criminal charges carry severe consequences and cause irreparable damage to someone’s livelihood, family and future career prospects. They are not to be taken lightly and you will in for the fight of your life.
What To Do If You’re Being Investigated For PPP Fraud
When dealing with federal criminal investigations, you are likely (although not always) to be contacted by federal agents (either in person or through a target letter in the mail) prior to an arrest being made. Oftentimes if they are coming by inform you of a pending investigation and likely charges, it is to either 1. Get you talking, or 2. Give you an opportunity to get an attorney in the hopes that you can work something out in order to avoid more serious penalties. They can also come arrest you pursuant to a criminal complaint or indictment.
Either way, you need to remember to not speak with them without first consulting with an experienced federal crimes lawyer. Remember if they have probable cause to arrest you, nothing you say will help you. You will simply be giving them more evidence to use against you. If they are coming by to have an exploratory discussion (i.e. a fishing expedition), they do not have enough to arrest you at that time and speaking to them will only give them more evidence in order to facilitate your arrest.
Here’s what you need to do if federal agents come knocking:
Do not be rude but do not let them into your house unless they have a valid warrant.
Don’t Speak or Make any Statements
If they are just there to talk or let you know of a pending investigation, politely decline to speak with them until you have had a chance to consult with a lawyer.
Ask for Contact InformationOnce you inform them that you invoke your constitutional 5th Amendment right to remain silent, politely ask them for their contact information (most will give you a business card) so that your lawyer may reach out and discuss the case with them on your behalf.
Get an AttorneyThis is not the time to try to talk your way out of anything or go about it yourself. Federal crimes are extremely serious and you need to make sure your rights are protected and your case turns out as positively as possible. The only way to do this is by protecting yourself, not speaking with federal agents and making sure you hire the best federal criminal defense lawyer possible.
The Odds are Stacked Against You
Remember, in federal court, the odds are stacked against you because of the government’s immense power and resources. It is virtually impossible to make it better by talking, going at it alone or by simply hiring just any attorney to stand there while you plead guilty. Federal cases are complex and often it is the small details that determine someone’s sentence or whether they must serve time in prison or can be put on probation instead of going to prison. When you start factoring what you can lose given the fines, restitution and prison time, you realize that you cannot trust your federal criminal investigation or case to just any lawyer. Don’t just make smart decisions when the federal agents come to investigate but also take your time when choosing who you want going to battle with you.