Texas man charged with using coronavirus relief funds to invest in crypto

A Texas resident has been charged by U.S. officials with using government funds from a coronavirus-related relief program to trade cryptocurrencies.

In a June 14 press statement, the Department of Justice alleged that Joshua Thomas Argires "fraudulently obtained more than $1.1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans" by filing false applications on behalf of two companies, Texas Barbecue and Houston Landscaping. CoinDesk first covered the charges.

Argires alleged claimed that both companies in question had employees and payroll expenses to cover. But as the Department of Justice noted:


Keep up with the latest news, trends, charts and views on crypto and DeFi with a new biweekly newsletter from The Block's Frank Chaparro

By signing-up you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy
By signing-up you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

"According to the complaint, neither Texas Barbecue nor Houston Landscaping has employees or pays wages consistent with the amounts claimed in the PPP loan applications. The complaint further asserts that both of these loans were funded, but that none of the funds were used for payroll or other expenses authorized under the PPP. Rather, the funds received on behalf of Texas Barbecue were invested in a cryptocurrency account, while the funds obtained for Houston Landscaping were held in a bank account and slowly depleted via ATM withdrawals, according to the charges."

That cryptocurrency account, according to court documents published by CoinDesk, was on Coinbase's website.