If you have been accused by the federal government of committing fraud, whether the alleged offense relates to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or selling personal protective equipment (PPE) or other essential items, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. The FBI and the federal government are working with officials in Texas and other states to crack down on alleged fraud.
Unfortunately, many people who are innocent or accused of misconduct the government believes to be very serious are facing harsh criminal penalties, which is why it is important to learn how to protect your rights and freedom. The following is an overview of the most frequently asked questions about COVID-19 fraud crimes.
How is the FBI Investigating COVID-19 Fraud?
In March 2020, the FBI created a COVID-19 Working Group, consisting of 500 representatives from every FBI field office and the Department of Justice to investigate individuals, businesses, and other organizations exploiting pandemic-related funds and laws through various fraud schemes.
Both federal and state law enforcement officials in Texas are working together to investigate individuals accused of COVID-19 fraud. For example, the Texas State Securities Board formed the COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force to investigate investor-related fraud in late April, working together with the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASSA).
What is COVID-19 Fraud?
One of the most common types of coronavirus fraud is Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fraud. PPP loans are part of the CARES Act, which enables small businesses to receive forgivable federal funding if the money goes toward employee wages, mortgage/rent, or any other business-related expenses. Other types of fraud include small business loan fraud schemes, advance fee and business email compromise (BEC) schemes, health care fraud, and stimulus check scams.
How Do I Know I am Being Investigated?
An investigation begins after a third party makes a complaint of alleged fraud to federal and state law enforcement departments. Backed by unlimited resources, the task force will obtain federal search or arrest warrants and conduct a thorough investigation into any applications, records, and any business dealings.
Once investigators gather enough evidence, the federal government will press charges in a criminal complaint. But remember, a criminal complaint is only an accusation. The federal government us still prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in court, which is why having a knowledgeable lawyer on your side is important to defend yourself.
What Happens If I’m Under Investigation?
Being contacted or visited by authorities is a clear sign you are under investigation. Keep in mind, anything you say can be used against you, which is why you politely decline and say you will first consult with your attorney before offering any information to investigators.
Reaching out to an attorney is one of the first steps toward getting the best possible outcome in your case. At the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC, our Dallas federal crime attorney has 30 years of courtroom experience, including time spent as a prosecutor, handling the most complex cases.
For more information about federal fraud charges in Texas, contact our Dallas federal criminal lawyer at the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC today. Available 24/7.