IssuesTaxes & SpendingHouston Man Swindled $1.1 Million in Coronavirus Relief Funds, Transferred Cash to Cryptocurrency Website

A 29-year-old Houston man has been charged with four felonies after a complaint was filed by a U.S. Postal Inspector.
July 30, 2020
Federal authorities have charged a Houston man with a list of felonies after he allegedly swindled $1.1 million from the Paycheck Protection Program and transferred most of the cash to a cryptocurrency account.

Joshua Argires has been arrested for wire fraud, bank fraud, lying to financial institutions, and making illegal financial transactions, per a Justice Department press release.

A criminal complaint affidavit filed on July 9 by a U.S. Postal Inspector says Argires created two phantom companies, one called Texas Barbecue and the other called Houston Landscaping.

Argires allegedly claimed Texas Barbecue employed 51 people and spent $382,500 each month on payroll. He even set up a website for the company with an online store that purported to be closed due to COVID-19.

He reportedly stated that his other made-up company, Houston Landscaping, needed $192,750 per month to pay 15 employees.

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Court documents say that, after receiving the loans, Argires directed $956,250 of them to an account on Coinbase, a cryptocurrency website.

The complaint details a litany of missteps by Argires that raised suspicion, including that he bungled his own scheme by providing faux tax documents with numbers that weren’t consistent with his false Houston Landscaping application.

Among other red flags, Argires reportedly never had more than $750 in his personal checking account or $1,525 in his personal savings account between December and June, which is incongruent with owning the majority of a business with hundreds of thousands of dollars in monthly payroll expenses.

Argires is presumed innocent unless the federal government proves otherwise in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."