Georgia Man Faces Wire-Fraud Charge After Spending $57,000 Pandemic Relief Loan on a Pokemon Card

Toby Hazlewood

Money obtained using false information used for private investment

It has come to light that a Georgia resident - Vinath Oudomsine - paid $57,000 for a Pokemon card, using money received in a pandemic relief loan to keep his business running. He's now facing charges of wire fraud after the purchase came to light.

Mr Oudomsine had applied for a federal loan of $85,000 to help keep his business running in the aftermath of the pandemic. In his application he falsified details of how many people he employed and his company turnover and in August 2020 received the funds. Instead of using the money as intended, he then decided to pay $57,789 for a rare Pokemon card, presumably hoping to later sell it for a profit.

A smart investment

If he hadn't obtained the money under false-pretenses, the card might have been a smart investment. The most expensive ever Pokemon card sold was a super-rare 'Pikachu Original Illustrator Card' which sold for $195,000.

It's also not unheard of for recipients of government stimulus payments to have invested these if they didn't need them at the time.

In August 2021, Nasdaq reported that a $1,200 stimulus check from April 2020 would be worth $8,500 if it had been immediately invested in Bitcoin. As at October 2021, that $1200 would now be worth over $10,500.

The difference between such investments, and that made by Mr Oudomsine is that private citizens receiving their $1200 stimulus checks didn't apply for them fraudulently, or so it's alleged.

What happens next?

Unsurprisingly, documents filed by the office of the US Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia don't specify which Pokemon card was actually purchased by Mr Oudomsine - they focus instead on the fact that he claimed to employ 10 people to justify the $85,000 loan.

However, gaming website Kotaku has surveyed the 10 most expensive Pokemon cards that have been bought and sold recently - which include a holographic "Rayquaza", that sold for $45,100 in December 2020. A "dark Charizard" also sold for $60,065 in October 2020

It matters little anyway - Mr Oudomsine will likely end up in jail for his crime, and the card itself will likely be seized and sold. Under civil forfeiture laws up to 100% of the proceeds from the sale of goods seized from criminals go to law enforcement. The money will end up back with the federal government one way or another.

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