Palo Alto Engineer Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy To Defraud Computer Equipment Manufacturer
SAN JOSE, Calif. – Sheng Qiang a/k/a Becky Qiang a/k/a Becky Sheng Qiang pleaded guilty in federal court today to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced. Qiang admitted to committing a sophisticated rebate fraud scheme with her husband, co-defendant Yezhou Zhao a/k/a Jake Zhao a/k/a Jake Chao.
In pleading guilty, Qiang, 38, a systems engineer in Palo Alto, Calif., admitted that for approximately five and one-half years, from 2002 to 2008, she and her husband perpetrated a scheme to defraud 3Com Corporation (3Com), a computer equipment manufacturer headquartered in Grand Rapids, Minn. Specifically, Qiang admitted that the defendants submitted a total of 98 fraudulent rebate claims to 3Com, totaling more than $634,000, and fraudulently received more than $577,000 in rebate money from 3Com. Hewlett-Packard (HP) Company, an information technology corporation based in Palo Alto, acquired 3Com in April 2010.
According to Qiang’s plea agreement, the defendants carried out the scheme by establishing numerous shell companies and private mailboxes around the San Francisco Bay area. They then submitted rebate requests to 3Com using various fake corporate and personal identities as well as forged and falsified documents. After fraudulently receiving rebate money from 3Com, the defendants deposited the funds in shell company bank accounts and then transferred the money to their personal bank accounts or wired it overseas.
Zhao has not appeared in court to face the charges in the indictment, and is considered a fugitive. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Zhao is requested to call the United States Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455.
Qiang’s sentencing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Sept. 4, 2012, before United States District Court Judge Ronald M. Whyte in San Jose. The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, is five years in prison a $250,000 fine (or twice the gain or loss resulting from the fraud), and restitution. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Matthew A. Lamberti is the Assistant United States Attorney who is prosecuting the case, with the assistance of Tracey Andersen. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service. 3Com and then later HP also assisted the investigation.