Vinath Oudomsine could face time in prison if he is convicted for allegedly spending more than $50,000 worth of a Covid-19 relief loan on a Pokémon card. The Georgia man was charged with one count of wire fraud earlier in the week and could face a maximum of 20 years in prison among other consequences.
In July 2020, Vinath Oudomsine applied for a Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) which was created to help small businesses stay a float during the Covid-19 pandemic. According to his application, Oudomsine said he employed 10 people and had an annual revenue of $235,000.
He was able to apply for the loan because of the CARES Act, which was passed in March 2020 and allowed more small businesses to qualify for the EIDL by waiving certain requirements and expanding eligibility.
It is unclear what kind of business Vinath Oudomsine ran or if he owned a business at all, according to court documents.
The Georgia man got $85,000 deposited into his account on August 4 2020, which he was supposed to use for payroll, production costs, rent, and other business expenses.
Instead, Oudomsine used that money to buy a Pokémon card that was worth almost $57,000. Federal prosecutors are unsure which card the man purchased, but if Vinath Oudomsine is found guilty he could face 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Oudomsine and his lawyers have yet to comment on the alleged purchase.
Since the pandemic started many Pokémon collectables have seen a surge in prices and have become extra valuable to some collectors. Some cards have been known to sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
One card, a 1st edition holographic shadow less Charizard card, sold for $369,000 back in December 2020. An anonymous buyer bought the card and it currently holds the record as the most expensive Pokémon card sold.
Other cards have sold for $50,000 like the one Oudomsine bought, or even $135,000, which is how much a Neo Genius 1st edition Holo Lugia card sold for in January 2021.
The rise in Pokémon card popularity is because of celebrities like Logan Paul and Logic. They both have admitted to buying their own 1st edition Charizard cards for over $100,000. These super Pokémon fans have shelled out a lot of money for cards for their own collection and have helped the trading cards rise in popularity.
Logan Paul has said that he has bought crates of 1st edition cards for over $2 million and had plans of auctioning them off online.
Covid19 relief checks have been used for other strange purchases beside Pokémon cards. Recently, Maurice Fayne, otherwise known as Arkansas Mo, from Love & Hip Hop Atlanta, was convicted of wire fraud and sentenced to 17 and a half years in prison after he lied about his business and used the Covid-19 relief for personal gain.
“Fayne planned to use the PPP program as a cover for his long-running Ponzi scheme,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “The funds the program supplies serve as a lifeline to many businesses desperately trying to stay afloat during the pandemic, and unfortunately his fraud helped deplete those precious dollars.
The reality TV star’s ponzi scheme started back in 2013 and when the pandemic hit, Maurice told the government that he owned a trucking company with over 107 employees and an average payroll of $1.4 million in order to recieve relief funds.
Instead of paying his employees, Maurice used the money to pay off his own child support, buy a Rolls-Royce, purchase custom made jewelry and even start a new business in Arkansas.
“At a time when small businesses are struggling for survival, we cannot tolerate anyone driven by personal greed, who misdirects federal emergency assistance earmarked for keeping businesses afloat,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta.
Maurice Fayne originally denied misusing the money, but officers later found the jewelry and a small amount of cash in his home.