Why Are Fraud Charges Rising During Covid-19 Lockdowns?

As the cases of Covid-19 rise, so do the instances of fraud charges. According to a recent report from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), 77% of fraud examiners observed an increase in instances of fraud since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. This might be due to an increase in unemployment, confusion regarding PPP loans, or technical issues that lead to the appearance of fraud.

If you have been charged with fraud, it is imperative to contact a fraud defense lawyer in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm as soon as possible. Your attorney will discuss the best defense and will help guide you through the legal process. In this post, attorneys with The Rickman Law Firm share why fraud charges are on the rise during the coronavirus crisis and what to do if you are accused of fraud.

Increase in Unemployment-Related Fraud

With an increase in unemployment comes a natural increase in unemployment fraud. In Florida, making false statements to obtain unemployment (also called reemployment assistance) constitutes fraud. Typically, in order to obtain unemployment benefits you must meet very specific criteria — for example, you must have been terminated through no fault of your own, must prove that you are currently actively searching for work, and have earned a specific amount during the previous calendar year.

However, with the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27, 2020, many of the traditional requirements for unemployment assistance have been waived. With these changes and the influx of new claims, unemployment fraud has become a widespread issue. Unfortunately, making an error or omission can result in charges of fraud no matter how well-intentioned you may be, which is why it is important to speak with a fraud defense lawyer in Tampa even if you know you are not guilty but have been charged with unemployment fraud.

PPP Loan Fraud

In order to provide economic relief during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was created. This program provides loans to companies meeting a specific criteria in order to reduce layoffs and financial stress. However, in order to receive these funds, businesses must be stringent on how they classify employees and how payroll is documented and represented.

As with any federal program, there are a number of acts and omissions that have the potential to lead to allegations of fraud. This includes inadvertent mistakes, such as accidentally providing inconsistent information in your application or supporting documents, and intentional misrepresentations, such as misrepresenting the number of employees at your company in order to be eligible for the PPP loan.

PPP fraud is investigated at the federal level and can have serious consequences if convicted. It is crucial to contact a white collar defense attorney in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm if you are contacted by federal agents.

Do not attempt to fraud charges alone. Any delay in hiring a white collar defense attorney in Tampa immediately upon being accused or arrested is a big mistake. A free consultation with Anthony Rickman is just a phone call away.

For a free consultation with a white collar defense attorney in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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