Baoke Zhang, a 35-year-old software engineer at ride hailing giant Lyft, is facing bank and wire fraud charges for what federal prosecutors called a “brazen scheme” to defraud the U.S. government’s recently launched Paycheck Protection Program.
It marks the first Paycheck Protection Program fraud case brought in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.
Zhang allegedly created two fictitious technology companies last month, and then applied to secure Small Business Administration loans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in the amount of $1.5 million.
In an unsealed complaint released today, the Issaquah, Wash. resident allegedly submitted documents to lenders indicating that he’d started the companies — under the names Cloud Optimization and Baoke Zhang— in 2017 and 2018. However, the complaint indicates that Zhang received Employer Identification Numbers from the IRS for the two companies last month, including one that was issued one week before he submitted for the loan as part of the Paycheck Protection Program. The companies purportedly employed 25 and 20 employees, respectively. However, today’s complaint said that each of the companies had “no identifiable employment expenses.”
“This defendant tried more than once to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) — a …read more