Seattle-area engineer pleads responsible for scheme to defraud COVID-19 reduction packages

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Baoke Zhang, a 35-year-old software program engineer primarily based within the Seattle space, pled responsible on Thursday to 1 rely of wire fraud for his scheme to defraud private and non-private COVID-19 reduction packages.

Zhang, charged in May within the U.S. District Court docket for the Western District of Washington, submitted 4 fraudulent purposes to 3 completely different lenders in an try and get forgivable loans from the Paycheck Safety Program, a part of the federal government’s CARES Act launched earlier this 12 months to help companies going through pandemic-related financial challenges.

Zhang created pretend entities with pretend payroll and tax information as a part of his purposes. He sought greater than $1 million in PPP loans. He additionally submitted a fraudulent utility for an Financial Damage Catastrophe Mortgage and obtained $10,000 from the Small Enterprise Administration earlier than his exercise was flagged.

The Issaquah, Wash. resident additionally tried to defraud two non-profit organizations providing grants to assist restaurant employees, in addition to a “multinational technology company headquartered in Seattle” that gave grants to small companies within the area. He claimed that he ran a small enterprise referred to as Wi-fi Kiosk in an area purchasing middle, however Zhang didn’t really personal any companies.

Amazon was not named within the Division of Justice news release, although the Seattle tech large has dispersed $11 million in monetary help to companies round its Seattle places of work impacted by workers working from house.

Zhang’s sentencing is about for Jan. 29. He faces a most penalty of as much as 20 years in jail and a high quality of as much as $250,000.

Zhang’s scheme is one in every of many PPP-related fraud circumstances throughout the nation. The Justice Division stated final month it charged 57 individuals with making an attempt to steal greater than $175 million from the PPP, The New York Times reported.

See the complete plea settlement under.

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