Cryptocurrencies

Texas Man’s Alleged Use of PPP Funds for Crypto Instead of BBQ Has Feds Asking ‘Where’s the Beef?’

(Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock)

A 29-year-old Texas man is in A-1 trouble after being charged Monday with siphoning nearly $1 million in Payment Protection Program loans meant for a barbecue company into a cryptocurrency trading account.

  • Joshua Thomas Argires received a $956,600 loan for “Texas Barbecue” and allegedly transferred those funds into a Coinbase account where they “generated a profit” by investing in crypto, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Monday in U.S District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The complaint didn’t disclose the size of the alleged profit or which cryptocurrencies were allegedly traded.
  • USPS investigators discovered Texas Barbecue had no documented employees, no online reviews and no bank account until four days prior to the loan request, according to a criminal complaint.
  • Argires suggested that Texas Barbecue’s Coinbase account was how employees were paid, saying: “I don’t really manage that aspect of” the business. Investigators assert Argires had exclusive control of the Coinbase account and Texas Barbecue never had any employees to pay.
  • Charges against Argires, who allegedly collected more than $1.1 million in fraudulent PPP loans total, include wire fraud, making false statements to a financial institution, bank fraud and engaging in prohibited monetary transfers.
  • In addition for his Texas Barbecue loan, Argires also received PPP funds for a company called Houston Landscaping, which also had no employees, the complaint reads. The funds obtained for Houston Landscaping were not deposited in Coinbase but were held in a bank account and depleted by ATM withdrawals, according to the complaint.
  • PPP records indicate a “Texas Barbecue” with identical information to Argires’ outfit received a loan from PrimeWay Federal Credit Union in Houston. PrimeWay could not immediately be reached for comment.

See also: ConsenSys, Polychain, Tron, CipherTrace: Blockchain Startups Got $30M+ in US ‘PPP’ Bailout Loans

Read the unsealed criminal complaint below:

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