(WSVN) - When the coronavirus hit, many businesses were able to survive thanks to that federal disaster loan program, but now, we are hearing from a business being told they need to start paying back the money. One problem: they never got any, so they called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

On television, your eyes let you see everything. Unfortunately, for this story, you can’t smell anything.

Gregory Moody, Smokey Trails BBQ: “Once you taste it, you’ll understand. I use wood, and all our meats and spices set for 24 hours at least, and then, you got anywhere from eight to 16 hours smoke on the meat.”

Greg owns and operates Smokey Trails BBQ at Northwest Seventh Avenue and 103rd Street in Miami-Dade.

Gregory Moody: “We’ve risen from the ashes to be ranked by number one in some of the magazine scenes in town last year.”

There is no fancy restaurant, just drive up and pick up. A great recipe for seven years.

Gregory Moody: “I love doing barbecue. I like making people happy. My meat speaks for itself.”

But, of course, COVID turned the heat up on his operation.

Gregory Moody: “I’m staying afloat, baby. That’s all I can do. Just keep paying the bills pay the taxes, and I’m 100% legal.”

Then, when the federal government offered COVID relief last year, he applied for the $10,000 disaster loan.

Gregory Moody: “I wanted to retain the employees that I had and keep them happily employed.”

But the government said he didn’t qualify and denied the loan.

Gregory Moody: “What can you do? Somebody made the decision, and there’s nothing I can do.”

Gregory kept on cooking, but now, he is smoking after he got another letter from the federal government.

Gregory Moody: “And they said I got a loan for $20,500, and that my first payment was due 8/2021.”

He was denied a $10,000 loan for Smokey Trails BBQ, but then, a crook got the government to approve a $20,500 loan for Smokey Trails BBQ.

Gregory Moody: “How come I didn’t get a loan, and when they gave away my money to somebody else, who’s going to make it right?”

Greg contacted the federal government. They said they would turn it over to the fraud department, but in the meantime, he was told he has to pay back the $20,500 loan the crook got.

Gregory Moody: “$20,000 is a lot of money to be responsible for.”

Greg has nailed the recipe for barbecue, but not the recipe to fight the federal government.

Gregory Moody: “Am I responsible for this loan? Please tell me. Yes? No? Maybe?”

Well, which one, Howard?

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “Even though it involves cumbersome government bureaucracy, legally, it’s really simple. Greg didn’t get the money, and he doesn’t have to pay it back, and it’s the government’s job to find out who stole the money.”

We contacted the Small Business Administration.

They wrote to Greg, “Our attorneys … are referring the case to the Office of Inspector General for investigation. You will not be responsible for paying the debt if you did not submit the application or receive the loan funds.”

Howard Finkelstein: “Now that the feds are investigating, Greg also needs to file a report with identitytheft.gov and notify the credit agencies to make sure the crook doesn’t use his company name again.”

Gregory Moody: “At this point, I am taking them at their word that this is a dead issue, as far as me paying that money that was taken.”

Of course, it will take the government a while to clear up the crooked loan, but at least after his call to Help Me Howard, Greg feels the job is being well done.

Gregory Moody: “You can do your best to get a solution, but sometimes, it takes that extra voice. Thank you, Help Me Howard.”

Cutting through the bureaucracy can be tough. Fortunately, we have found a way or two to do it, and of course, we will be happy to do it for you.

Got burned by a rare problem that’s left you smoking? Wanna turn the temperature down on the headache? Flip over to us and let us chew on it awhile.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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