It’s rough whenever money is not put to proper use, but according to one source, that appears to be what happened in Texas recently when a man allegedly used a PPP loan to get his fingers on cryptocurrency.
PPP Loans Are Not to Be Played Around With
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has reached a new pinnacle over these past few months as the spread of COVID-19 continues to allegedly ravage the economies in America and beyond. In the United States, several steps have been taken to ensure both individuals and businesses have the funds and tools they need to survive and continue operating throughout the crisis.
One of these measures included a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus plan. Given the greenlight in late March, this plan saw the delivery of multiple $1,200 checks to Americans making less than $75K. It also saw to the further establishment of PPP loans for businesses that required their employees to stay on board during the health crisis but were potentially lacking the funds to pay them. As much as $349 billion has been allocated to the PPP program for business use.
Joshua Argires reportedly runs a barbecue restaurant in Texas. When the coronavirus initially began to spread, he, like most business owners, needed financial help to stay up and running. He thus got his paws on a near $1 million PPP loan from the U.S. government, but it doesn’t look like that money went to keeping his employees protected. It appears the money went towards cryptocurrency purchases.
The restaurant allegedly employed more than 50 individuals, but federal documentation says that the establishment has no workers whatsoever. In fact, the company doesn’t sell anything and appears to only possess a website at the time of writing. Still, this didn’t stop Argires from sending the money he received to a Coinbase account through five separate wire transfers.
At press time, he has been charged by the Justice Department with bank fraud, wire fraud, and “engaging in unlawful monetary transactions.”
The DOJ first became suspicious when it first saw the loan amount. Roughly $1 million for just over 50 employees meant that each person working at the supposed restaurant was set to garner approximately $90,000 per month. An official complaint submitted by the DOJ says:
Such a high average salary for a barbecue operation raises suspicion.
A Whole Separate Case
The complaint also contains alleged conversations the barbecue owner had with the Houston credit union about Coinbase. Argires reportedly asks a bank representative what he thinks of the exchange.
In a separate scam, Argires is accused of garnering an additional $160,000 in PPP loan funds for a fake business he called Houston Landscaping. Court documents suggest that he made several withdrawals from nearby ATMs and used thousands of dollars-worth of PPP funds. He is presently out on $25,000 bail.