A 24-year-old New York resident has pleaded guilty to acquiring more than $7 million in COVID-19 relief through fraudulent loan applications and misleading investors in a fraudulent initial coin offering during 2018.
According to a Tuesday announcement from the United States Department of Justice, Taiwanese national, Justin Cheng — also known as “Justin Jung” — submitted a series of online loan applications accompanied by forged tax and payroll records between May and August of last year.
Cheng’s applications featured fraudulent Internal Revenue Service tax and payroll records purporting to document the names of 200 employees earning $1.5 million in monthly wages from Cheng’s businesses. However, the list consisted of names from current and former public figures including Good Morning America co-anchor and a deceased “former Penn State football coach.”
In addition to applying with at least five different banks, the scammer sent loan applications to the U.S. government’s Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs.
Cheng was successful in securing $7 million worth of COVID-relief for his fictitious employees, which was reportedly spent on personal expenses, including a $40,000 Rolex, rent for a $17,000-a-month apartment and a 2020 Mercedes. U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:
“Cheng lied to the SBA and several banks about ownership of his companies, the number of people employed, and how any loan proceeds would be applied, using…