Federal law enforcement officials arrested Chinese national Muge Ma, 36, who goes by the name Hummer Mars, on Thursday for allegedly trying to steal $20 million from U.S. taxpayers that was intended to help American businesses devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department of Justice said in a statement announcing the charges:
In connection with loan applications for relief available from the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (“EIDL”) Program, MA falsely represented to the SBA and five financial institutions that his companies, New York International Capital LLC (“NYIC”) and Hurley Human Resources LLC (“Hurley”), had hundreds of employees and paid millions of dollars in wages to those employees, when, in fact, MA appears to have been the only employee of his companies. MA’s company NYIC also fraudulently represented that it was representing New York State in procuring COVID-19 test kits and personal protective equipment to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are many people in desperate need of federal money right now to get them through an unbelievably difficult time,” FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr said. “The last thing they need to hear is that a fraudster allegedly tried to steal millions of dollars for his own selfish use. We hope this serves as a demonstration to other criminals plotting a similar scam – we are acting and investigating in real time to stop anyone using this crisis as a means to rip off the federal government and the tax payers who fund that government.”
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said Ma’s “alleged attempts to secure funds earmarked for legitimate small businesses in dire financial straits are as audacious as they are callous, and now he now faces federal prosecution.”
From March through May, Ma allegedly “applied to the SBA and at least five banks for a total of over $20 million in Government-guaranteed loans for his companies,” charging documents unsealed in federal court stated. Ma allegedly claimed that he “had hundreds of employees and paid millions of dollars in wages to those employees on a monthly basis,” when in fact he “appears to have been the only employee of” the different companies that he claimed he owned.
Charging documents said that Ma submitted numerous fraudulent and doctored financial records in an attempt to received the funds and also falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen.
IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen said: “As many American businesses are struggling to survive during these difficult times, it is alleged that Mr. Ma sought to steal millions of dollars in loans intended to assist legitimate businesses. Make no mistake about it, IRS-CI is committed to investigating and bringing to justice those individuals who defraud coronavirus relief programs.”
Ma was charged with bank fraud, wire fraud, multiple counts of making false statements, and major fraud against the United States, and, if convicted of all charges, faces well over 100 years in prison.
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