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Scammers Attempting to use Payroll Protection Program (PPP) to Find New Victims

With a number of businesses in our area wanting to file applications to take advantage of the federal government’s Payroll Protection Plan (PPP), at least one scam being used by criminals has surfaced in Central Pennsylvania.
 
Email that appears to be from the SBA
JBT’s security team was notified of an email phishing attempt targeted a client from another financial institution in our area.
 
The potential victim received an email that appeared to be from the Small Business Administration (SBA) regarding the Payroll Protection Plan (PPP). The email appeared to be authentic, even using the SBA logo and what appeared to be a legitimate email address. The email also referenced the document portal used by the SBA.
 
In reality, however, the fraudulent SBA email was sent to an email the targeted business owner had never provided to the SBA. The word “program” was misspelled as “proram” in the subject line in the phishing email and the email itself contained a malicious attachment entitled SBA_Payroll_Protection_Application.img
 
In the email, scammers instructed the victim to print, sign and submit the documents contained in the malicious attachment. WARNING: This is not how the SBA PPP application process works.
 
Important Guidelines from the SBA
Unfortunately, the real-life incident highlighted above is just one tactic scammers may attempt to use to take advantage of the current environment. For that reason, the SBA is offering the following guidance to help identify fraudulent scams and schemes.
 
  • SBA does not initiate contact on either 7a or Disaster loans or grants.  If you are proactively contacted by someone claiming to be from the SBA, suspect fraud.
  • Look out for phishing attacks/scams utilizing the SBA logo.  These may be attempts to obtain your personally identifiable information (PII) to obtain personal banking access, or to install ransomware/malware on your computer.
  • Any email communication from SBA will come from email accounts ending with sba.gov.
  • The presence of an SBA logo on a webpage does not guaranty the information is accurate or endorsed by SBA.  Please cross-reference any information you receive with information available at www.sba.gov.
  • Suspect fraud if you are contacted by someone promising to get approval of an SBA loan, but requires any payment up front or offers a high interest bridge loan in the interim.
  • SBA limits the fees a broker can charge a borrower to 3% for loans $50,000 or less and 2% for loans $50,000 to $1,000,000 with an additional ¼% on amounts over $1,000,000.  Any attempt to charge more than these fees is inappropriate
  • If you are in the process of applying for an SBA loan and receive email correspondence asking for your personally identifiable information (PII), ensure that the referenced application number is consistent with the actual application number.
 
Fraud associated with the PPP is on the rise
Fraud opportunity surrounding the SBA PPP will likely remain prevalent in the coming weeks, especially since funding for the program has temporarily run out. This means scammers will look to target business owners that are increasingly financially distressed and looking for relief. 
 
Report any suspected fraud related to the SBA PPP
Any suspected fraud related to the SBA PPP may be reported directly to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) Hotline at 800-767-0385 or online at https://www.sba.gov/about-sba/oversight-advocacy/office-inspector-general/office-inspector-general-hotline
 
As always, JBT will continue to be diligent in identifying any actual or potential fraud that may impact our clients.