Fraudster admits to attempting to bilk $20M in COVID relief loans

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A Chinese national living in New York pleaded guilty Tuesday to attempting to bilk several banks and the US government out of $20 million in COVID-19 relief loans.

The fraudster, who went by the names Muge Ma and Hummer Mars, copped to one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft for his Payment Protection Program scheme in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors said.

He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison.

Ma applied for the loans, which were designed to help struggling small businesses amid the pandemic under the CARES Act, at five banks, the feds said.

He told the lenders that he was the owner of two companies, which he said employed hundreds of people and paid out millions of dollars a month in wages.

In reality, Ma was the sole employee of the companies, which he ran from his luxury Manhattan apartment building.

Before investigators uncovered the ruse, the Small Business Administration and one bank approved more than $1 million in loans to Ma, prosecutors said.

“Small businesses are facing uncertainty and unprecedented challenges, the least of which should be opportunists attempting to loot the federal funds meant to assist them,” Manhattan US Attorney Audrey Strauss said in statement. “Now Muge Ma awaits sentencing for his admitted criminal skulduggery.”

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