Man Who Used COVID Loan to Buy Pokemon Card Sentenced to Prison

A Georgia man will be heading to prison for spending money from a COVID relief loan on a Charizard card. This week, the Department of Justice announced that Vinath Oudomsine will be sent to prison for three years after pleading guilty to a single charge of Wire Fraud. Oudomsine applied to the Small Business Administration for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan back in July 2020 and received $85,000 to use on an "entertainment" business he claimed he owned. Oudomsine lied to the government about owning the business and then used a portion of the money to purchase a 1st Edition Shadowless Base Set Charizard card for $57,789.

As part of his plea agreement, Oudomsine will have to repay the full $85,000 plus $10,000 in additional restitution. He'll also have to turn over the Charizard card to the federal government. Oudomsine will also have to serve three years of supervised release once his prison sentence is over. 

"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, in a press release announcing the sentencing. "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."

While the FBI might consider a Charizard card to be a "trivial collectible item," they've become the face of an increasingly hot vintage Pokemon market. Graded Pokemon cards are selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars, driven by celebrities and investors who believe that the market will just get hotter. Recently, a Pikachu Illustrator card sold for nearly $1 million, setting a new record for most expensive Pokemon card. 

It's unclear what the federal government will do with the Charizard card. However, it's possible that it will be put up for auction, giving collectors a chance to purchase the now infamous card.