WASHINGTON (KXAN) — A Houston man is facing multiple federal charges stemming from a scheme to get more than $1.1 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans fraudulently, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday. They say he then tried to use that money to buy cryptocurrency.
Joshua Thomas Argires, 29, faces charges of making false statements to a financial institution, wire fraud, bank fraud and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions.
The complaint, unsealed Monday, says Argires submitted two fraudulent PPP loan applications to federally-insured banks under the names Texas Barbecue and Houston Landscaping. The complaint says neither company has employees or pays wages consistent in the application. Prosecutors say Argires claimed the companies had “numerous employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll expenses.”
In the complaint, it says both the loans were funded, but rather than used for payroll expenses authorized by the PPP, Argires instead took some of the money and invested in cryptocurrency while keeping a portion in a bank account and making ATM withdrawals to access it.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of the Inspector General, Small Business Association OIG, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Houston division conducted the investigation.