The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Mississippi has reported that over $20 million in judgments have been recovered from fraud involving the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Over the past 12 months, the Civil Division’s lawyers have obtained more than 150 False Claims Act judgments, which is more than any other district in the country.
In addition to allowing the government to recover triple the amount of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, the False Claims Act also allows the United States to recover up to $27,018 in penalties for each loan, bank processing fees, and a $402 court filing fee.
“We anticipate focusing on PPP fraud for several years to come and are proud to be recovering tax-payer money,” U.S. Attorney Clay Joyner stated. “We will not allow fraud schemes to remain unchecked in our district and we will use all civil and criminal remedies available to hold accountable those who committed fraud.”
One of the most notable False Claims Act judgments included the case against Starkville native Chris Lick, who was sentenced to 78 months for submitting a fraudulent PPP loan application. Lick currently has a $12 million civil judgment.
Another involved Mississippi attorney and SBA employee LaKeith Faulkner, who was sentenced to 62 months and ordered to pay $10,600,000 in restitution for his role in a scheme to obtain fraudulent PPP loans.
“We are uncovering fraud throughout our district,” Civil Chief John E. Gough, Jr. explained. “This fraud scheme was rampant, and we would like the public’s help in recovering these ill-gotten funds.”
Recent amendments to federal law have extended the statute of limitations for civil and criminal fraud enforcement actions involving PPP loans from six years to a period of up to ten years.