A Manhattan man was charged by federal prosecutors with fraudulently trying to obtain more than $20 million in government loans intended to aid small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Muge Ma, also known as Hummer Mars, 36, is accused of applying for both Small Business Administration emergency loans and Paycheck Protection Program assistance for two companies he claimed had hundreds of workers on payrolls totaling millions of dollars. He was actually the only employee for both companies, prosecutors said in announcing the charges Thursday.
In one of his loan applications, Ma allegedly said his company 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.” His two companies were approved for more than $1.45 million in loans before the fraud was discovered, according to prosecutors.
“Ma’s alleged attempts to secure funds earmarked for legitimate small businesses in dire financial straits are as audacious as they are callous, and now he now faces federal prosecution,” Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement. “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.”
Ma, a US permanent resident from China, was arrested Thursday and is charged with defrauding both the US government and the banks from which he sought PPP loans and faces more than 30 years in prison if convicted. Apart from lying about his companies, Ma also falsely claimed that his companies were involved in procuring personal protective equipment and COVID-19 test kits for the state of New York, prosecutors said.