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New Jersey PR Firm Settles for $2.29 Million in PPP Loan Misuse Case

MWW Group LLC Resolves Allegations of False Claims Act Violation, Paying Over Two Million Dollars Following a Whistleblower Lawsuit.

MWW Group LLC, a Bergen County-based public relations firm, has agreed to a $2.29 million settlement with the U.S. government for allegedly misusing funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a relief initiative for businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

BERGEN COUNTY, NEW JERSEY - MWW Group LLC, operating as MikeWorldWide (MWW), has resolved allegations of violating the False Claims Act. The U.S. Attorney's Office announced that the company improperly obtained a $2 million PPP loan, designed to aid small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.

The PPP, part of the 2020 CARES Act, aimed to provide financial support to Americans grappling with the pandemic's economic impact. Billions were allocated for forgivable loans, assisting businesses in maintaining payrolls and other essential expenses.

The complaint against MWW detailed that the firm was ineligible for the PPP loan due to its mandatory registration under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. Despite this, MWW not only secured the loan but also obtained full forgiveness of the amount.

In a cooperative move, MWW engaged with authorities during the investigation and settlement process. The agreement requires the firm to repay $2.29 million plus interest. This settlement concludes a whistleblower lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act, which allows individuals to sue on behalf of the government in cases of false claims.

The whistleblower, pivotal in this case, is set to receive $229,000 as a part of the government's recovery. This aspect underscores the critical role of private citizens in uncovering fraudulent activities.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David V. Simunovich, part of the Health Care Fraud Unit in Newark, represented the government in this case.

In light of ongoing concerns about COVID-19 related fraud, the Department of Justice continues to urge the public to report suspected fraudulent activities through their National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline.

The lawsuit, filed as United States ex rel. Forsyth v. MWW Group LLC, Civil Action No. 23-299 (D.N.J.), highlights the ongoing efforts to ensure integrity and accountability in the utilization of federal relief funds.

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