Editor's note: Contact7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need our call center could address, or have a story idea for our investigative team to pursue, please email us at email@example.com or call (720) 462-7777. Find more Contact7 stories here.
CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- Denver7 is dedicated to helping Colorado Rebound in the safest, most efficient way and sometimes, that means warning people about paying for services they may not need.
Castle Rock business owner Avery Kyle has a cautionary tale to share.
"This is what I have been doing for 25 years," said Kyle. "Then all of a sudden it was gone."
After the pandemic decimated his Castle Rock DJ and Karaoke business, Avery Kyle Entertainment, he Googled disaster loan assistance and found New York-based Affinity Beyond Capital.
He filled out the company's online application for an Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and was in for a surprise.
"So, I did the application and a couple of days later had a thousand dollars taken out of my account," he said. "I had no idea that was going to be taken out at the front end. I thought it would be taken out of the loan when I received it."
When Kyle complained, the company's CEO Moe Ghani, did give him a refund, but only for $500, saying Kyle would get the EIDL loan.
Weeks later, the Small Business Administration denied the loan.
"We don't have the loan so do I get my money back, right? And he said 'no,'" said Kyle. "Even if that's legal, I was like, 'How is that moral or ethical? How do you feel good about doing that to a family that can least afford for that to happen?'"
Kyle reached out to Contact7, and we contacted the Small Business Administration.
An SBA spokesman said not only it is not necessary to go through a third-party company to apply for an EIDL loan, the application has no fee, and there are many free services to help business fill out the applications.
"We have millions of applications from businesses and sole proprietors who have made applications without any problems," said Burl Kelton, with Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance. "And we offer assistance at no charge."
Kelton referred business owners to this link to apply a no cost: covid19relief.sba.gov/#/.
For business owners who need no-cost help completing loan documents, the SBA Customer Service Center can be reached at 800-659-2955.
Contact7 called Ghani, and he did not wish to speak on camera, but said that his company offers proofreading and financial expertise for the $1,000 fee. Ghani also showed the form on which Kyle accepted the processing fee.
However, Ghani agreed to refund all of Kyle's money. He also said his company is no longer offering the EIDL application services.
"This company did nothing. I basically filled out the SBA form through their website," said Kyle.
Kyle just received the remaining $500 in his bank account, but as Colorado rebounds, he feels sorry for other desperate small business owners looking for a little help.
"Why does it have to take somebody shining the light on you for you to do the right thing? I don't understand that," said Kyle. "We're eternally grateful for you guys coming in and helping us with this."