Software Developer Pleads Guilty to COVID-19 Fraud Scheme

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SEATTLE (AP) – A Seattle man has pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud for implementing a scheme to defraud multiple COVID-19 relief programs, according to federal prosecutors.

Baoke Zhang, 35, of Issaquah, Wash., Pleaded guilty last week in federal court in Seattle. He admitted to submitting four bogus claims to three different lenders for forgivable loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides payroll assistance to small businesses, prosecutors said.

To support loan applications, Zhang used bogus entities for which he created bogus payroll and tax records, prosecutors said. Two of the bogus loan applications asked for $ 600,000 each, a third request asked for $ 325,000 and a fourth asked for about $ 41,000.

Zhang also sent bogus requests to two nonprofits that provide grants to restaurant workers struggling economically due to the pandemic.

Zhang also admitted that he made a fraudulent application to a multinational technology company based in Seattle, Wash. That provided grants to qualifying small businesses in the Seattle area.

He falsely claimed in his application that he was running a small business in a local mall that had suffered economically from the pandemic. However, Zhang did not own any business. Zhang obtained $ 5,000 from the relief program before his fraud was detected, prosecutors said.

In total, Zhang admitted to attempting to defraud the various COVID-19 relief programs over $ 550,000, prosecutors said.

The sentence was set for January 29, 2021.


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