Texas Man’s Alleged Use of PPP Funds for Crypto Instead of BBQ Has Feds Asking ‘Where’s the Beef?’

Investigators could not find any online reviews, any documented employees or any established bank account for the defendant's purported BBQ company.

Jul 14, 2020 at 4:34 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. UTC

A 29-year-old Texas man is in A-1 trouble after being charged Monday with siphoning nearly $1 million in Payment Protection Program loans meant for a barbecue company into a cryptocurrency trading account.

  • Joshua Thomas Argires received a $956,600 loan for “Texas Barbecue” and allegedly transferred those funds into a Coinbase account where they “generated a profit” by investing in crypto, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Monday in U.S District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The complaint didn’t disclose the size of the alleged profit or which cryptocurrencies were allegedly traded.
  • USPS investigators discovered Texas Barbecue had no documented employees, no online reviews and no bank account until four days prior to the loan request, according to a criminal complaint.
  • Argires suggested that Texas Barbecue’s Coinbase account was how employees were paid, saying: “I don’t really manage that aspect of” the business. Investigators assert Argires had exclusive control of the Coinbase account and Texas Barbecue never had any employees to pay.
  • Charges against Argires, who allegedly collected more than $1.1 million in fraudulent PPP loans total, include wire fraud, making false statements to a financial institution, bank fraud and engaging in prohibited monetary transfers.
  • In addition for his Texas Barbecue loan, Argires also received PPP funds for a company called Houston Landscaping, which also had no employees, the complaint reads. The funds obtained for Houston Landscaping were not deposited in Coinbase but were held in a bank account and depleted by ATM withdrawals, according to the complaint.
  • PPP records indicate a "Texas Barbecue" with identical information to Argires' outfit received a loan from PrimeWay Federal Credit Union in Houston. PrimeWay could not immediately be reached for comment.

Read the unsealed criminal complaint below:

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