US Attorney’s Office Prosecuting Several PPP Fraud Suspects
Beverly Cantrell - February 7, 2022 7:53 am
TULSA, Oklahoma – News 6
The US Attorney’s Office is working with the FBI and the Office of the Inspector General to prosecute people suspected of committing fraud through the Paycheck Protection Program.
As the program becomes a thing of the past, people are starting to go back to the books and the banks are re-evaluating some of their loans.
US Attorney Clint Johnson said in many cases defendants have taken responsibility for their actions, admitted in court that what they did was wrong, plead guilty and have been punished for it.
Fraudsters are taking advantage of a federal program designed to help smaller businesses stay afloat during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“It’s taxpayer dollars that you and I and your listeners are paying out to keep the businesses that we like to go to open,” said Clint Johnson, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
Johnson said 21 defendants in 11 different Payment Protection Program fraud cases have worked their way through the system here in the Northern District of Oklahoma.
“Anytime that kind of money’s involved, con artists and tricksters are gonna come out and criminals are gonna come out to try and take that money from places that actually deserve it,” said Johnson.
He’s seen everything from folks lying about the number of employees they have, to making fake businesses.
“We have wire fraud, we do bank fraud, we do false statements to institutions and then we also do identity theft,” said Johnson.
Johnson’s Asset Recovery Team has already recovered close to half a million dollars in the northern district of Oklahoma.
There are also money judgments against guilty parties so that they must pay the money back over an extended period.
Johnson said in one case, someone applied for about a million dollars and received $165 thousand, before eventually being sentenced to a year in jail.
In another case, 4 defendants were taking PPP loans out of banks applying for up to $8 million.
They got $950 thousand before getting caught.
“All 4 of them have plead guilty. One person was sentenced to 4 years in jail. One person was sentenced to 1 year in jail and 2 other individuals are still awaiting sentencing,” said Johnson.
Johnson said cases are normally resolved between 4 to 6 months after charges have been filed.
You can report PPP fraud online or by calling the Office of the Inspector General at 800-767-0385 and can choose to remain anonymous.