A Texas individual allegedly used $1.1 million in COVID-19 aid funds to buy cryptomoneyBesser
A Texas resident was indicted by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas on July 14. The charges suggest that he fraudulently submitted $1.1 million in loan applications through the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP. He claimed that he was seeking relief from COVID-19, but allegedly actually used the funds to buy crypto-currencies.
According to allegations published by the U.S. Department of Justice, Joshua Thomas Argires, 29, made false statements to financial institutions. Officials say Argires committed wire fraud by setting up a Bitcoin Era scheme to submit applications to the Small Business Administration, or SBA.
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Argires managed to submit the COVID-19 relief requests on behalf of two companies called „Texas Barbecue“ and „Houston Landscaping“. He falsely claimed that both companies had numerous employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll expenses.
Money invested in a crypto-currency account
The money received on behalf of Texas Barbecue was reportedly invested in a crypto-currency account at the Coinbase crypto-currency exchange.
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The federal criminal complaint states that as of May 19, the Texas individual began a series of transactions that ultimately resulted in the transfer of $956,250 into Coinbase’s account through five wire transfers.
According to police, as of June 30, the money invested remains in Argires‘ Coinbase account. Officials said the funds have already generated a profit:
„ARGIRES has sole control of the Coinbase account. In fact, ARGIRES is the only user associated with the account, and there is no indication that anyone else is managing this account for him. In addition, the Internet protocol address associated with several of the Coinbase account transactions appears to be associated with a physical location in or very close to a residence in southwest Houston that the researchers believe is associated with ARGIRES.
Community launches campaign against scams and fraud
The Texas securities regulator has continued its offensive against crypto-currency 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 cryptomining company was allegedly involved in a number of illegal activities, including fraudulent claims that they would double investors‘ money.
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