A man in Georgia, USA, has been sentenced to three years in federal prison after using his COVID disaster relief loan to purchase a Pokémon card.
The sentencing took place in the US state of Georgia, where Vinath Oudomsine pleaded guilty to committing fraud after using part of the $85,000 (£78,000 )that his fake ‘business’ had been given as a COVID disaster relief loan in order to buy a Pokémon card worth $57,000 (£52,000). (Thanks Polygon.)
The COVID disaster relief program was intended to provide small business struggling as a result of the impact of the pandemic with additional funding. In July 2020, Oudomsine applied for the loan using fraudulent documents, claiming that the money would be used to pay for the salaries of 10 employees working for a business that was supposedly based in Dublin, Georgia, that had been earning revenues of $235,000 prior to the Pandemic.
When Oudomsine received the loan, he proceeded to use $57,789 (£53,000) of the funds to buy a rare, first-edition, shadowless and holographic Charizard card. The card – which featured unique errors making it a valuable collectors’ item – matched the description of one listed on PWCC marketplace as being in 9.5 gem mint condition and sold in late 2021. The Pokémon card in question has since been confiscated by the prosecution, with Oudomsine being charged with a fine of $10,000 (£9,000) on top of the $85,000 he owes for the loan, as well as being sentenced to 36 months in a federal prison.
“COVID-19 disaster relief loans are issued by the government to help businesses struggling to survive during a pandemic,” said Philip Wislar, acting special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta. “Not to use for trivial collectible items.”
Oudomsine’s sentencing follows a string of instances wherein Pokémon cards have been involved in illegal or fraudulent activities, including the seizing of counterfeit Pokémon cards by customs official at Shanghai airport in November – which featured over 7.6 tons of fake Pokémon cards stored in booster boxes displaying the official Pokémon logo and Spanish text reading “Jeugo de Cartas Coleccionables”- and YouTube creator Logan Paul losing over $3 million (£2.7 million) on a booster box of supposedly first-edition Pokémon cards that turned out to contain worthless cards from the GI Joe Trading Card Game.
The prosecution for Vinath Oudomsine’s case has not confirmed what they intend to do with the now confiscated rare Charizard Pokémon card.