After the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was first put in place in 2020 during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of small business owners across the United States could manage their payroll and other business expenses by receiving PPP loans with very low-interest rates. However, as the pandemic has waned, the federal government has started reviewing PPP loan applications in exacting detail, leading to some loan recipients facing severe federal fraud charges.
If you have been charged with PPP bank fraud in South Florida, you must understand exactly what kind of charge you are dealing with and what options you have for fighting the allegations against you. Guidance from an expert PPP fraud lawyer can be crucial to handle this kind of situation proactively and effectively.
One of the best ways to understand federal bank fraud charges is by comparing them to federal wire fraud charges. Many alleged PPP fraud cases are prosecuted as wire fraud. Both bank fraud and wire fraud involve the knowing execution of a scheme intending to defraud another person or to obtain money, assets, securities, or any other financial instrument from them. This is done by making false representations or establishing pretenses.
The key difference between these charges is how the alleged scheme is executed and who it targets. Wire fraud involves using wired communication—such as a phone call or, more commonly, the Internet—to conduct fraudulent activities across state lines. Conversely, bank fraud does not necessarily have to involve any fraudulent activities across state lines, but it must specifically target a financial institution.
Another important distinction between these two charges is that it can be much trickier for prosecutors to prove “materiality” for bank fraud than for wire fraud cases. To show materiality, a prosecutor must prove that a fraudulent act involved a significant amount of money to warrant legal action. Put another way, five dollars taken from a bank differs greatly from five dollars taken from an individual, given how much of the defrauded party’s total assets and interests that amount might represent. An expert, Fort Lauderdale attorney, can clarify what constitutes a PPP bank fraud case.
Under 18 U.S.C. §1344, someone convicted under federal law of defrauding a financial institution may face a maximum prison term of 30 years, even if they have no history of criminal convictions at the federal or state levels. Additionally, someone convicted under this statute of bank fraud related to a PPP loan in South Florida may have to pay a maximum fine of $1,000,000.
As with most federal criminal charges, these penalties are much harsher than those typically allowed for fraud prosecuted under Florida state law. Working with a top defense attorney is best to give yourself the best chance to avoid these penalties.
Federal prosecutors tend to be highly bullish about criminal charges for bank fraud, and they have been known to file charges for both wire fraud and bank fraud over a single alleged instance of PPP loan fraud. However, you can still fight against these accusations with help from the best federal criminal defense attorneys.
Rossen Law Firm’s legal team understands what’s at stake when you’re charged with a crime in South Florida. We’re committed to defending you and protecting your rights. Our legal team is ready to create a customized strategy for your case to fight for the best possible outcome. We handle Criminal, DUI, Federal, Domestic Violence, Marchman Act & Baker Act cases, and more.
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