Recently Manhattan federal prosecutors announced the arrests of 17 individuals for allegedly defrauding the federal government’s Small Business Administration (SBA) COVID-relief program called the Paycheck Protection Program. In a nutshell, these individuals are accused of wire fraud for purportedly applying for small business relief funds on behalf of small businesses (or sole proprietorships) that either did not exist or did not generate the revenues described in their loan applications.
For many small businesses, the SBA’s various COVID-relief programs, including the Paycheck Protection Program, were critical in helping those businesses survive the once-in-a-generation economic downturn created by the pandemic. However, the fraudulent abuses of the program have become almost legendary and have recently been the subject of many Congressional inquiries.
The Department of Justice this year launched a task force to prosecute – at the federal level – crimes involving abuse of the COVID relief programs. So, one should expect to see more such prosecutions launched against individuals in the near future.