The hardest thing for the government to prove in one of these fraud cases is that you knew and did it intentionally. In South Florida, one of the key issues is going to be the language barrier. The reality is we have a huge population in South Florida that speaks Spanish, Portuguese, Creole, but not English. Whether these people have elementary English abilities to communicate, they are definitely not knowledgeable or qualified to deal with complex financial documents and know what exactly is being asked. A possible language barrier is always something that we look at. Did you have any intent? Were you just confused? And that’s why every case is going to be different.
A lot of these cases follow a similar pattern, but we have to consider your individual ability. There are good business owners out there who still lack a high level of reading ability; some might even be illiterate to some extent and rely on others to help them. I’ve heard about many services online offering to help with the PPP loan process, so I think many business owners fell victim to people who presented themselves as helpers. These owners weren’t informed or knowledgeable about what they were really submitting. The service charges the business a fee and remains almost anonymous in the process of filling out the application for the business owner and securing the loan. The business owner is happy to pay the fee, unaware that all the service did was create a bunch of false documents for a commission.
These could all be potentially common issues in South Florida, as well as possible defenses. If it’s happened to you, keep any documentation to show who you hired, what retainer they gave you, the receipt for what you paid them, etc. These documents could be critical to proving your innocence.
Will Any Criminal Defense Attorney Know How to Defend My PPP Fraud Case?
Not necessarily. You want someone who has experience with these cases. The best attorney for defending murder charges will probably not be the best to defend a financial crime case. Just because someone has experience in criminal defense doesn’t mean that they’re the best attorney for this kind of a financial crimes case. This is a very specific area of criminal defense, which is what we would call a white collar or a financial crime. You want someone who understands financial records and conspiracies, someone who has defended these cases in the past, because they’re very different from your run-of-the-mill criminal defense case.
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