October 10, 2020
Fraud Friday – Ponte Investments Issues Clarification
On October 2, 2020, Coleman Publishing received correspondence from Ponte Investments’ legal representative clarifying the circumstances surrounding legal action initiated against Ponte by the Federal Trade Commission.
According to the letter, in April 2020, Ponte Investments, by and through its website “SBALoanProgram.com” was accepting customer PPP applications as a loan originator. At the time, Ponte was not a direct lender but had an existing lending relationship with direct lenders of SBA loan programs.
While accepting PPP applications, Ponte Investments was allegedly in the process of becoming a direct lender solely for PPP. The letter explains that Ponte was advised, through an intermediary, that the SBA was looking favorably upon its application and that approval seemed near. As a result, Ponte “inadvertently jumped the gun” and posted an announcement about being a direct lender on the company’s website. Ponte’s legal counsel notes that the announcement was only posted for two hours and that the company only received two inquiries related to PPP before the announcement was removed.
Despite taking prompt remedial action by removing the statement from their website two hours later, Ponte Investments received a cease and desist notification from the SBA regarding the announcement. Ponte allegedly responded immediately in compliance, but the FTC filed a Complaint in Rhode Island Federal Court on April 17th.
Rather than get involved in a lengthy and complicated legal battle, the letter stipulates that John Ponte and his company entered a preliminary order in which they agreed to not engage in the alleged conduct. By entering into the agreement, Ponte never admitted or denied the claims brought in the FTC’s Complaint. In order to avoid future confusion, Ponte’s attorney says he has also “voluntarily surrendered “ the use of the business trade name “SBALoanProgram.Com.”
The settlement was agreed upon without any monetary fine or penalty. Therefore, Ponte Investments has been able to continue its business unabated.
The full letter and the settlement agreement are available for download Here.