Fraud in the News

Couple attempts to outsmart NASA

A federal jury convicted a Lehigh University engineering professor and his wife of six out of 10 counts of wire fraud after hearing testimony the couple lied to NASA about who was running a $700,000 research program, according to The Morning Call article, Lehigh University professor and wife convicted of cheating NASA, by Peter Hall on Nov. 20, 2015.

According to the article, Yujie Ding, 53, and his wife, Yuliya Zotova, 41, of Upper Saucon Townshop, proposed a program in 2009 to develop a cutting-edge sensor that NASA would use to track climate change. Zotova, who has a doctorate in physics, would plan and direct the project, provide technical guidance and supervise graduate students in Ding's lab at Lehigh, where no more than half the work was to be subcontracted.

According to the article, prosecutors alleged that Zotova and Ding left students and research fellows to do all the work — build the sensor and fine-tune it for NASA. Meanwhile, Zotova and Ding made reports to NASA that the program was proceeding as described in the proposals. Lehigh research fellows and graduate students testified that they'd never seen Zotova or even met her.

According to the article, the couple sent invoices to NASA, via the Internet, seeking $560,000 for work that they didn't do according to the terms of their proposal, prosecutors said. Sentencing was scheduled for March.

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