HOUSTON - One Houston man is facing charges after being accused of fraudulently obtaining over $1 million from the Payment Protection Program (PPP).
According to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Texas, Joshua Thomas Arguires, 29, is charged with making false statements to a financial institution, wire fraud, bank fraud and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions.
The complaint states Argires submitted two fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program loan applications to federally insured banks. One application was submitted on behalf of an entity called Texas Barbecue, and the other was filed on behalf of a company called Houston Landscaping.
Officials said Argires allegedly claimed the two companies had numerous employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll expenses.
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The complaint stated Texas Barbecue nor Houston Landscaping has employees or pays wages consistent with the amounts that were claimed in the PPP loan applications. The complaint also stated that both of the loans that were funded were used for payroll or other expenses authorized under the PPP.
The funds for Texas Barbecue were invested into a cryptocurrency account while the funds for Houston Landscaping were held in a bank account and slowly reduced via ATM withdrawals.
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The PPP allows qualifying small businesses and other organizations to receive loans with a maturity of two years and an interest rate of one percent. Businesses must use PPP loan proceeds for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. The PPP allows the interest and principal to be forgiven if businesses spend the proceeds on these expenses within a set time period and use at least a certain percentage of the loan towards payroll expenses.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency - Office of the Inspector General (OIG), SBA - OIG and U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Houston Division conducted the investigation.