Prison for Man Who Scammed US Government to Buy Pokémon Card

A man from Georgia has been sent to prison after fraudulently obtaining $85,000 in COVID Relief and using most of the money to buy a collectible Pokémon trading card.

Vinath Oudomsine, of Dublin in Laurens County, entered false information when applying for financial assistance from the Small Business Administration (SBA) in the summer of 2020. 

In an application for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), the 31-year-old Pokémon fan fraudulently stated his entertainment service business in Dublin employed 10 individuals and had generated gross revenues of $235,000 in the 12 months preceding the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Taken in by the fraudulent representations Oudomsine made on his application, the SBA deposited $85,000 into the fraudster’s bank account on August 4 2020. Oudomsine later used $57,789 of this EIDL to buy a rare trading card featuring Charizard, a fire-flying-dragon type Pokémon designed by Atsuko Nishida.

“Congress appropriated funding to assist small businesses struggling through the challenges of a global pandemic,” said US attorney David Estes. 

“Like moths to the flame, fraudsters like Oudomsine took advantage of these programs to line their own pockets – and with our law enforcement partners, we are holding him and others accountable for their greed.”

Oudomsine pleaded guilty in October to one count of wire fraud. On Monday, US District Court judge Dudley Bowner fined Oudomsine $10,000 and sentenced him to 36 months in federal prison, where there is no chance of parole, followed by three years of supervised release. 

As part of the prosecution, Oudomsine agreed to forfeit the Pokémon card. Money raised from its sale will go towards the $85,000 restitution that Oudomsine was ordered to pay. 

“COVID-19 disaster relief loans are issued by the government to help businesses struggling to survive during a pandemic, not to use for trivial collectible items,” said Philip Wislar, acting special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta. 

“This sentence highlights the FBI’s commitment to aggressively pursue anyone who would abuse taxpayer dollars and divert them from citizens who desperately need them.”

The Department of Justice urges anyone with information about alleged fraud involving COVID-19 to report their suspicions to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF). 

John Bambenek, principal threat hunter at Netenrich, commented: “In the end, this goes to show if you steal from the government, the FBI will Pikachu.”

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