POLITICS

Chinese Woman With 'Malware' Allegedly Lied To Secret Service To Get Into Mar-A-Lago

Yujing Zhang is accused of making a false statement to a federal officer and entering a restricted property.

A woman carrying two Chinese passports illegally entered President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Saturday while carrying a thumb drive with malware stored on it, according to a criminal complaint filed by federal prosecutors in Florida.

The complaint claims that the 32-year-old woman, Yujing Zhang, lied to Secret Service agents and appeared to be unable to communicate well in English while trying to gain access by saying she was a member of the club and wanted to use the pool. Zhang reportedly offered two Chinese passports with her name on them as proof of identification.

Though Zhang’s name wasn’t on the official membership list, a manager at the club thought she was the daughter of a member and she was allowed inside. Once in the club, Zhang told a front desk receptionist she was there to attend an event for the “United Nations Chinese American Association.”

The receptionist knew there was no such event scheduled that day. After further interviews, Secret Service agents learned Zhang was more proficient in English than originally believed.

The complaint filed Monday by a Secret Service agent incorrectly stated that Zhang’s passports were from the Republic of China, which is also known as Taiwan. However, Sarah Schall, special counsel to the U.S. attorney’s office, said Zhang’s passports were actually from the People’s Republic of China, which is better known as China.

Prosecutors charged Zhang with one count of making a false statement to a federal officer and one count of entering a restricted property. Zhang had in her possession four cellphones, a laptop, an external hard drive, the thumb drive loaded with malware and no swimsuit. 

Zhang may have been at Mar-a-Lago to gain access to a canceled event that former Florida spa chain owner Li “Cindy” Yang had been promoting, the Herald reported. Yang’s spas had been the focus of a high-profile human trafficking investigation. Yang also reportedly sold access to Trump and other political figures.

While Trump was not at the club when Zhang entered, first lady Melania Trump and other members of Trump’s family were, according to NBC News. Zhang was accompanied by club staff or Secret Service agents the entire time she was on the property, the Secret Service told NBC.

Yang, who reportedly advertised the event Zhang was trying to get into, has been involved in two back-to-back scandals uncovered in recent months.

During an investigation into an alleged international human trafficking ring in February, police accused Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, of soliciting sex at a Florida massage parlor owned by Yang. 

In March, an investigation by Mother Jones found that Yang was also selling access to the president through a company she owned with her husband, GY US Investments LLC. The company, whose website has since been taken down, would allegedly give paying clients the “opportunity to interact” with Trump, the “U.S. Minister of Commerce” and other “political figures.” Yang’s company also claimed it could arrange “White House and Capitol dinners” on its website.

One event promoted by Yang was previously scheduled at Mar-A-Lago for the day Zhang entered the property, but it was canceled after the Herald published an investigation on Friday revealing that Yang was advertising her ability to sell access to Trump.

Yang’s name did not appear in the charge documents against Zhang, according to the Herald. There is no apparent connection between Yang and Zhang. 

Zhang is scheduled to appear for a hearing in court in West Palm Beach on Monday.

This article has been updated to include more details from the criminal complaint and a comment from Sarah Schall of the U.S. attorney’s office.

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