Defending the Rights of Those Accused of Covid-19 Fraud

Federal and state governments have directed the law enforcement to prioritize investigations of fraud schemes arising out of the coronavirus emergency. The U.S. Attorney General has directed Department of Justice to make prosecuting COVID-19 fraud a significant priority. The Texas Attorney General has also made prosecuting fraud and price gouging related to the coronavirus pandemic a top law enforcement priority.

If you or your healthcare business in Texas is currently facing allegations of COVID-19 relief fraud or any other form of healthcare fraud, it is of utmost importance to seek the assistance of experienced and highly competent legal representation. In cases involving fraud linked to COVID-19 relief funds, you may be subjected to investigations conducted by various state and federal agencies. It is worth noting that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has displayed unwavering determination in prosecuting instances of fraudulent activity associated with the pandemic. Their enforcement endeavors have been particularly focused on alleged violations of vital programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), and claims pertaining to unemployment insurance benefits.

The dedicated team at Hilder & Associates, P.C., has in-depth understanding of COVID-19 relief fraud, and is fully prepared to support you in conducting internal investigations, implementing necessary corrective measures, effectively addressing agency inquiries, and providing a robust defense against prosecution initiated by the Department of Justice (DOJ) or any other state or federal entities in Texas. We are committed to ensuring your rights are protected and diligently working towards helping you moving forward.

What Is COVID-19 Fraud?

Fraud schemes generally involve a material misstatement, misrepresentation or omission relating to a good or service that is presented to and relied upon  in making a decision whether to purchase a product, fund a loan, or provide insurance. In some cases, the “scheme” may involve an agreement between an industry insider or insiders— to siphon money or equity out of a transaction.

A critical fact in any fraud case is whether the fraudulent statement is “material;” whether the allegedly harmed party knew about the falsehood; and whether the alleged victim conducted a diligent review before executing its decision.

COVID-19 fraud refers to deceptive or unlawful activities that exploit the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic for personal gain or to defraud individuals, businesses, or government programs. It involves intentionally providing false information, misrepresenting facts, or engaging in fraudulent schemes related to COVID-19 relief funds, healthcare services, or products.

There are various types of COVID-19 fraud that individuals or entities may commit. Some examples include:

  • Fake or counterfeit treatments: Individuals or companies may market and sell fake or unapproved treatments, cures, or preventive measures for COVID-19, taking advantage of people’s fears and vulnerability.
  • Price gouging: Some businesses may significantly increase the prices of essential goods and services, such as medical supplies, hand sanitizers, or masks, during the pandemic to exploit the high demand and shortage.
  • Charity scams: Fraudsters may create fake charities or crowdfunding campaigns, claiming to support COVID-19 relief efforts. They deceive people into making donations that never reach those in need.
  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fraud: This type of fraud involves misrepresenting or providing false information when applying for PPP loans, intended to help small businesses retain employees and cover essential expenses during the pandemic.
  • Unemployment benefits fraud: Fraudsters may fraudulently claim or exaggerate their eligibility for unemployment benefits due to COVID-19-related layoffs or reduced working hours.
  • Healthcare fraud: Some healthcare providers or professionals may exploit the pandemic to submit fraudulent claims for reimbursement, provide unnecessary medical services, or engage in identity theft related to COVID-19 testing or treatment.
  • COVID-19 fraud is taken very seriously by law enforcement agencies, including federal entities like the Department of Justice (DOJ). These agencies are committed to investigating and prosecuting individuals or organizations engaged in such fraudulent activities, aiming to protect public health, economic stability, and the integrity of COVID-19 relief programs.

If you are facing allegations or investigations related to COVID-19 fraud, it is crucial to seek experienced legal representation immediately. An attorney specialized in white-collar crime and fraud can help protect your rights, guide you through the legal process, and build a strong defense strategy.

Payment Protection Plan Fraud

The Small Business Administration’s Payment Protection Plan, a creation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the CARES Act, creates potential for fraud investigations and enforcement actions by the federal government. The COVID-19 Payment Protection Program (PPP) is a federal relief program implemented to provide financial assistance to small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It offers forgivable loans to help businesses cover payroll costs, rent, utilities, and certain other expenses. 

PPP fraud occurs when individuals or businesses intentionally provide false information, make misleading representations, or engage in deceptive practices to fraudulently obtain or misuse PPP funds. Here are some common examples of PPP fraud:

  • False Representation of Eligibility: Individuals or businesses may provide inaccurate or fabricated information when applying for PPP loans, such as inflating employee numbers, misrepresenting payroll expenses, or falsely claiming eligibility for the program.

  • Misuse of Funds: PPP funds are intended to be used for specific purposes outlined in the program guidelines, such as payroll costs, rent, utilities, and other eligible expenses. PPP fraud can occur when individuals or businesses divert funds for personal use, unrelated expenses, or engage in fraudulent activities instead of using the funds as intended.

  • Falsified Documentation: Some individuals or businesses may submit falsified or doctored documents to support their PPP loan applications or loan forgiveness requests. This can include fake payroll records, inflated expenses, or fabricated financial statements.

  • Shell Companies and Identity Theft: Fraudsters may create fictitious or dormant companies to apply for multiple PPP loans using stolen identities or false information. They may exploit the program’s fast-paced nature and limited verification processes to receive multiple loans fraudulently.

  • Collusion and Conspiracy: PPP fraud can involve coordinated efforts among multiple individuals or entities to submit fraudulent applications or misuse funds. This can include schemes where individuals or businesses collude with bank employees, loan officers, or others involved in the loan approval process.

PPP fraud is a serious offense and can lead to criminal charges, substantial fines, and potential imprisonment. Federal agencies, such as the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Small Business Administration (SBA), actively investigate and prosecute cases of PPP fraud to ensure the program’s integrity and protect taxpayer funds.

Unclear lending applications, regulations, and directions by lenders created uncertainty about information required on loan forms. There continues to be confusion about how and when the loans will be repaid or forgiven. There is also uncertainty as to the status of PPP loans in relation to other loans, mortgages, and lines of credit a small business may have or require in the future. These uncertainties may unwittingly expose small businesses to federal criminal investigations.

At Hilder & Associates, P.C., we recognize the severity of PPP fraud allegations. If you are facing accusations or investigations related to PPP fraud, our experienced team of Covid-19 fraud defense attorneys can provide you with comprehensive legal representation. We will protect your rights, guide you through the legal process, and develop a robust defense strategy tailored to your specific case. Our goal is to help you be successful, whether it involves negotiation, settlement, or vigorous defense in court.

Texas COVID-19 Fraud Defense Attorneys

White collar fraud cases are often complex, since they may involve prior civil litigation and large amounts of “paper.” Thus, these cases require significant document review so that the attorney understands the facts and can present a viable defense. These cases frequently involve large amounts of alleged “loss” that, at the federal level, could expose a defendant to lengthy sentences. Loss calculations in and fraud cases require knowledgeable attorneys that understand how to lower or offset “loss” and thus limit a defendant’s prospective sentence.

As stated above, frauds may be prosecuted by federal or state authorities. Often, the prosecution alleges conspiracy, but the crime may also involve bank fraud, false statements to federally backed institutions, mail and wire fraud. Significantly, frauds that affect a federally insured financial institution have a 10-year statute of limitations.

COVID-19 fraud allegations carry significant repercussions that can greatly impact your life and future. If found guilty, you may face criminal charges, which can lead to severe penalties, including imprisonment. Additionally, substantial fines may be imposed, resulting in significant financial burdens. Moreover, the damage to your reputation can be long-lasting and affect your personal and professional relationships.

Having an attorney by your side is crucial in such cases. Your attorney will serve as your legal advocate, working tirelessly to protect your rights throughout the legal process. We will skillfully analyze the evidence, challenge the prosecution’s case, and present a strong defense strategy tailored to your specific circumstances. With our skills and experience, we will navigate the complexities of the legal system, ensuring your best interests are represented at every stage.

Moreover, at Hilder & Associates, P.C., we will diligently work to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Our Covid-19 fraud defense attorneys will explore all available legal options, negotiate with prosecutors, and, if necessary, provide skilled courtroom representation. Their goal is to minimize the impact of the allegations, whether it be through seeking reduced charges, negotiating plea bargains, or fighting for an acquittal.

We will provide you with the support, guidance, and experience needed to navigate the challenges of COVID-19 fraud allegations. Our healthcare fraud defense team will stand up for your interests, protect your rights, and work tirelessly to achieve the most favorable outcome possible, given the circumstances of your case.

Contact Us To Start Building Your Defense

Hilder & Associates, P.C. is a law firm dedicated to defending the rights of individuals and businesses accused of Covid-19 fraud. The firm is comprised of experienced attorneys who are well-versed in the complex legal issues surrounding Covid-19-related charges. Their goal is to provide clients with the highest quality legal representation possible, ensuring that their rights are protected and their interests are served.

At Hilder & Associates, P.C., the attorneys understand that Covid-19-related charges can have serious consequences, both personally and professionally. As such, we work tirelessly to develop a comprehensive defense strategy tailored to each client’s unique situation. Our fraud attorneys have the skills, knowledge, and experience necessary to navigate the complexities of Covid-19 fraud cases, including those related to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), and other Covid-19 relief programs.

With a commitment to integrity, professionalism, and client service, the attorneys at Hilder & Associates, P.C. strive to achieve success for each and every client. Whether through negotiation, litigation, or trial, they are dedicated to protecting the rights and interests of those accused of Covid-19 fraud. If you or your business is facing Covid-19-related charges, Hilder & Associates, P.C. is ready to help you defend your rights and protect your future. Contact our fraud defense attorneys today.