A Texas resident was charged by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas on July 14. Allegations suggest that he fraudulently filed loan applications for $1.1 million through the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP. He claimed he was seeking COVID-19 relief, but allegedly actually used the funds to purchase cryptocurrency.
According to the allegations published by the U.S. Department of Justice, 29-year old Joshua Thomas Argires made false statements to financial institutions. Officials claim that Argires committed wire fraud by establishing a scheme to file the applications to the Small Business Administration, or SBA.
Argires managed to submit the COVID-19 relief applications on behalf of two companies named “Texas Barbecue” and “Houston Landscaping.” He falsely claimed that both businesses had numerous employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll expenses.
Money invested in a crypto account
The money received on behalf of Texas Barbecue was reportedly invested in a cryptocurrency account on the Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange.
The federal criminal complaint states that beginning on May 19, the Texas man began a series of transactions that ultimately resulted in the transfer of $956,250 into the Coinbase account through five wire transfers.
According to law enforcement, as of June 30, the money invested remains in Argires’ Coinbase account. Officials noted that the funds have already generated a profit:
“ARGIRES has exclusive control of the Coinbase account. Indeed, ARGIRES is the sole user associated with the account, and there is no indication that anyone else manages this account for him. Additionally, the internet protocol address associated with several of the Coinbase account transactions appears to be associated with a physical location in or very near to a residence in Southwest Houston that investigators believe is associated with ARGIRES.”
The Texas securities regulator has continued its crackdown on cryptocurrency scams. On April 8, the Texas State Securities Board, or TSSB, issued an emergency cease and desist order against a company called Ultra Mining.
This crypto mining firm was allegedly involved in a diverse number of illicit activities, including fraudulent claims that they would double investors’ money.