A North Carolina businessman is accused of inflating the number of people who worked for him and fudging payroll numbers to qualify for a bigger chunk of COVID-19 relief funds from the federal government at the start of the pandemic.
Maurice Kamgaing, 41, was indicted in federal court on charges of wire fraud and making false statements, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina said Thursday. Kamgaing lived in Charlotte before he moved about an hour northeast to Archdale, a city of about 11,500 people near the Triad.
He runs two technology companies that were incorporated in North Carolina — Apiagne Inc. and AKC Solutions. Prosecutors said both businesses were registered with the state using his previous home address in Charlotte. Their websites now list an address in Archdale on Balfour Road.
According to the grand jury indictment, that same Archdale address is home to an office building Kamgaing is accused of buying with the fraudulent loans.
Emails that McClatchy News sent to Kamgaing’s companies on Thursday went unanswered, and it wasn’t immediately clear if he has retained a lawyer.
Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act that passed in March 2020, small businesses could apply for a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program. The loans were designed to keep workers on the payroll amid widespread shutdowns.
Kamgaing reportedly filed two applications for PPP loans on behalf of his businesses.
Prosecutors said the first was filed April 7, 2020, for Apiagne and sought $650,000. According to the indictment, Kamgaing claimed to spend $260,000 a month on payroll for his 46 employees. He later amended the request for upwards of $876,000.
The application was accompanied by fake IRS documents showing he had spent $4.1 million in payments to employees in 2019, prosecutors said.
Kamgaing’s application was approved and $856,463 was deposited in his business account on May 6, according to the indictment.
Kamgaing reportedly filed a second application on April 27, 2020, for AKC Solutions, in which he also sought $650,000. Prosecutors said the application stated he had 23 employees and average monthly payroll expenses of $260,000. It was also accompanied by false tax documents.
A loan for $650,000 was approved and dispersed on May 5 — just one day before the money from his first application was also deposited, according to the indictment. Before the money was dispersed, prosecutors said the account had just $100 in it.
Prosecutors said Kamgaing then moved the money in various amounts from his business accounts to personal ones.
In June, they said he used $25,000 from the loans to put a down payment on 215 Balfour Drive in Archdale. Five days later, Kamgaing reportedly wired another $846,737 to pay for the property.
A listing for 215 Balfour Drive on RE/MAX shows it sold on June 25 for $875,000.
The grand jury indicted Kamgaing on one count of wire fraud, two counts of making false statements to a bank and two counts of engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived property. If convicted, prosecutors said he faces up to 30 years in prison on the first three counts and up to 10 years on the last two.