Houston Man Caught Taking $1.1M In COVID-19 Stimulus For Companies With NO Employees

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Houston Man Caught Taking $1.1M In COVID-19 Stimulus For Companies With NO Employees.

Coronavirus has caused a crisis for the global economy and markets. With an escalating number of confirmed cases globally, many countries’ economies already were slowing before the pandemic, and now COVID-19 threatens to push them into a steep recession.

It pushed the U.S. stock market, the world’s largest, into bear market territory in March. In response to this crisis, Congress passed the CARES Act on March 29. The bill was intended to provide emergency relief funds to millions of Americans impacted financially by the coronavirus pandemic.

Joshua Thomas, 29 is facing charges in connection with fraudulently obtaining more than $1.1 million in coronavirus relief funds, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Monday.

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The complaint Joshua Thomas Argires with making false statements to a financial institution, wire fraud, bank fraud and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a press release. Thomas was arrested Monday and appeared in court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Bray.

Following the complaint, Thomas allegedly filed two fraudulent loan applications to federally insured banks seeking more than $1.1 million in forgivable loans. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act passed in March, the Small Business Administration guarantees the loans for coronavirus relief funds through the Paycheck Protection Program(PPP).

Joshua Thomas allegedly submitted fraudulent loan applications on behalf of two companies, Texas Barbecue and Houston Landscaping. The complaint accuses Thomas of claiming they had numerous employees that necessitated hundreds of thousands in payroll expenses.

But neither Texas Barbecue nor Houston Landscaping has employees or pays wages consistent with the amount requested in the PPP applications. It further alleges that the funds received for Texas Barbecue were invested in a cryptocurrency account, while those received for Houston Landscaping were kept in a bank account and slowly withdrawn through an ATM.

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