Man jailed for using COVID-19 relief cash to buy $57,000 Pokémon card

A contestant looks at cards as he competes during the 2016 Pokemon World Championships on Aug. 19, 2016 in San Francisco, Calif. File Photo / Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

A Georgia man has been sentenced to jail after he was caught using illegally obtained COVID-19 relief money to buy a US$57,000 Pokémon trading card.

Vinath Oudomsine of Dublin, Ga., pleaded guilty in October to a single count of wire fraud after he was accused of submitting false information to the U.S. Small Business Administration last year when he applied for a coronavirus relief loan for an “entertainment services” business he claimed to own.

He received $85,000 from the loan program, prosecutors said, and used it to buy a “Charizard” Pokémon trading card for $57,789.

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The 31-year-old claimed that his nonexistent business had 10 employees and was grossing about $235,000 per year, said a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

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“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,” Philip Wislar, acting special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta, said in a statement.

“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 Pokémon enthusiast was sentenced to three years in prison.

He was also ordered to forfeit the “Charizard” card, fined $10,000, and must pay $85,000 in restitution.

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