A Chinese national has pleaded guilty after being accused of cheating the federal government and banks to obtain tens of millions of COVID-19 relief loans meant for small businesses. He could be sentenced to up to 32 years in prison, the Justice Department said in a June 15 press release.
The 37-year-old New York resident, named Muge Ma, also known as Hummer Mars, had been detained and accused since May 21, 2020, of fraudulently attempting to claim over $20 million of government-backed loans for two of his companies—New York International Capital LLC (NYIC) and Hurley Human Resources LLC (Hurley). Evidence shows that he paid millions of dollars in wages to hundreds of employees, but Ma was later found to be the sole employee of both companies.
The false representations made to the Small Business Administration (SBA) and at least five financial institutions include a range of falsified and doctored bank records, tax records, insurance records, payroll records, and audited financial statements.
Ma allegedly described one of his companies as a “patriotic American” firm and the other as one that 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.”
Situated on the sixth-floor of a luxury New York apartment building, both companies were declared to be global in nature.
As a legal permanent resident of the United States with Chinese nationality, he also falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen.
The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced yesterday that Ma pleaded guilty to fraudulently attempting to obtain over $20 million in COVID-19 relief loans from the federal government.
“MA, 37 of New York, New York, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years to be run consecutively with any other sentence imposed,” said the press release.
Before the fraud was discovered, the SBA had approved loans of $500,000 to NYIC and $150,000 to Hurley. Additionally, a bank had approved an $800,000 government-guaranteed loan to Hurley, which was later frozen due to the investigation.
Sentencing in Ma’s case is scheduled for Sept. 22, 2021.