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A Chinese national living in New York City was arrested Thursday for trying to defraud the government of $20 million meant for small businesses struggling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, officials announced.
Muge Ma, 36, who also goes by the name “Hummer Mars,” was arrested for seeking more than $20 million in Small Business Administration loans claiming to pay millions of dollars in payroll for his hundreds of employees for two businesses, the Department of Justice said in a press release.
Ma allegedly submitted the bogus applications through five banks between March and May. He filed falsified tax records, insurance and payroll documents, and bank records, among others.
He also allegedly created a website that showed photos of him smiling with people whom he claimed were employees, and meeting with public figures, such as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to court papers.
Ma had already received $650,000 in separate loans, and had been granted another loan, which was for $800,000, but it was frozen as part of the DOJ investigations, officials said.
“Ma described one of the companies as a ‘patriotic American’ firm, and said of the other company that it would ‘help the country reduce the high unemployment rate caused by the pandemic by helping unemployed American workers and unemployed American fresh graduates find jobs as quickly as possible,’” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, who represents the Southern District of New York. “In truth, Ma appears to be the only employee of either company and had no legitimate claim to the funds for which he applied.”
He was charged with fraud, wire fraud, making false statements to a bank, major fraud against the United States, making false statements and making false statements to the SBA.