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Texas Man Charged With Fraud For Transferring Nearly $1M Coronavirus Federal Aid To Cryptocurrency Account

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Texas Man Charged With Fraud For Transferring Nearly $1M Coronavirus Federal Aid To Cryptocurrency Account

A Texas resident is facing fraud charges for allegedly transferring federal aid — meant for small businesses to survive coronavirus pandemic — to a cryptocurrency trading account.

What Happened

Joshua Thomas Argires received $956,000 in aid on behalf of a company called "Texas Barbecue," as part of the United States government's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), CoinDesk reported Tuesday.

The 29-year old proceeded to transfer the amount to an account at cryptocurrency exchange desk Coinbase, where it generated a profit, a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for Southern District of Texas has alleged.

Charges against Argires include wire fraud, making false statements to a financial institution, bank fraud, and engaging in prohibited monetary transfers.

Why It Matters

The PPP is a loan program that was created under the CARES Act to provide an incentive for small businesses affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to keep workers on the payroll.

Investigators from the United States Postal Service found no documented employees, no online reviews, and no bank account until four days before the loan was requested by Texas Barbecue, according to CoinDesk.

Argires claimed that the employees of Texas Barbecue were paid through his Coinbase account. Investigators allege that the company never had any employees to pay in the first place.

Last month the Government Accountability Office, a body that oversees the CARES Act spending, said in a report that "because of the number of loans approved, the speed with which they were processed, and the limited safeguards, there is a significant risk that some fraudulent or inflated applications were approved."

 

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