Don’t let desperation cloud your judgment.
In the months after 9/11, I was frantic.
But my fears had less to do with the tragedy at the Word Trade Center and more to do with the fact that, after 10 years of rampant prescription opioid abuse, my business was failing. I was searching desperately for an out. Meanwhile, the television and radio were blaring with ads for 9/11 FEMA loans administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
So, on an especially bad day, I lied.
I said I had an office near ground zero. I received the SBA loan I requested, and immediately paid down the personal credit cards I had run up while waiting for the SBA money. Even so, the loan did little to stop my spiral into drug addiction, mental health issues, marital problems and magical thinking.
In 2002, I resigned my law license and started on the road to recovery. But it all caught up with me about 20 months later, when I was arrested for the misrepresentations on my loan application. I served almost 14 months at a Federal prison for wire fraud and money laundering.
My objective in writing this piece is to offer some insight on what business owners should consider before they take out disaster loans. Certainly, the majority of people requesting these loans are honest and upstanding entrepreneurs who have immense need for the aid, and will use the funds properly. I am very glad there is help for them. That said, history has shown us again and again that when people are in dire need, they’re more prone to make impulsive, ill-advised decisions. My hope is that sharing my experience will help others avoid the consequences I faced. Here are seven takeaways.
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Radio/Podcast: Business Talk with Jim Campbell: Jeff Grant Talks with Jim About Going to Prison for SBA Loan Fraud and What to Know Before Taking Coronavirus Relief Money, Biz Talk National Radio Network, Broadcast from 1490 AM WGCH Greenwich, CT, Mon., Apr. 27, 2020. Listen on YouTube here.
Video/Podcast: Jeff & Babz Talk SBA Loan Fraud and 7 Things to Know Before You Take Coronavirus Relief Money, WNHH 103.5 FM New Haven, CT, Fri., April 24, 2020. Watch on YouTube here.