RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) — Dealing with COVID-19 has been difficult for businesses and securing financing to help with the recovery process can be daunting.
Recently, a situation has arisen where companies are offered money via a solicitation letter which may not be what it seems.
This came to the attention of consumer investigator Steve Sbraccia when one of our own employees received an email stating that CBS 17 had been approved for a $6,148 Check Protection Program loan. (PPP) from the government and, because of this, was eligible for $265,000 in additional funding. of a private finance group.
At the height of the pandemic, with businesses closed and needing a way to keep employees on staff, the government began paycheck protection program.
The PPP offered these loans from a federal fund of $954 billion.
This week, a CBS 17 employee received an email from an entity calling itself Allegiant Funding Group saying that in April 2020, Cross River Bank approved CBS 17’s $6,148 PPP loan – a loan that our business owners never asked for.
The Allegiant Funding Group website lists a Las Vegas address for the company and includes a section showing “what our satisfied customers say about us.”
When Sbraccia performed a reverse image search on photos of clients identified as “Michael Nash” and “Stephen Arintok”, he discovered that the website was using stock photos that had been seen on hundreds of websites. different.
When Sbraccia called the phone number listed for Allegiant Funding Group in the letter we received, he was connected to a company called US Business Funding based not in Las Vegas, but in Santa Ana, California, where a man from name of Jack Phillips took the call.
Sbraccia asked what US Business Funding was doing.
“We provide working capital and lines of credit as well as equipment financing for your business,” said Phillips.
While researching the company, Sbraccia discovered that the Better Business Bureau had registered 33 complaints against US Business Funding.
Many of the complaints were about constant spamming and multiple unsolicited emails sent several times a day by the company to businesses around the country.
“They send out different marketing emails throughout the day,” Phillips admitted.
A BBB complaint says a person received an email about an “approved loan” based on an application “he never filed”.
It looked like the email CBS 17 received from Allegiant Funding Group that directed us to US Business Funding.
Sbraccia wanted to know why CBS 17 would be associated with a PPP loan that no one in the company asked for?
“I don’t have that answer for you sir,” Phillips said.
We wanted to know more about Allegiant Funding Group and sent a copy of the email we received to the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office.
They told CBS 17 they had no record of complaints against the company, but issued a warning that what Allegiant Funding Group was doing should be reported to the US Small Business Inspector General’s Hotline. Administration.
Sbraccia has also contacted the bank mentioned in that email that allegedly approved CBS 17’s PPP loan. He has yet to respond.
During our phone call with Phillips, we asked for the name of a US Business Funding marketing executive to get answers about how Allegiant Funding Group is connected to their business and why their website uses stock photos to represent its clients.
Phillips gave Sbraccia a name and email address, but no one responded to the request.