Federal authorities have charged a Georgia man with fraud after he allegedly spent $57,789 of COVID relief money on a Pokémon card. According to The Macon Telegraph, the feds believe Vinath Oudomsine applied for and received $85,000 in aid from Washington then used roughly half of it to buy a collectible trading card.
According to the charging documents, Oudomsine filed a Small Business Administration loan application on July 14, 2020. In the paperwork, he claimed to have run a small business since 2018 that had then employees and a yearly income of $235,000. On August 4, the SBA deposited $85,000 in Oudomsine’s bank account. Unfortunately the charging documents do not say specifically what card he bought, but it can only be one of a few cards. Most likely it was a First Edition Base Set Charizard or a First Edition Lugia, which would have had to have been graded highly by a professional card-grading company.
“In furtherance of the scheme and artifice, on January 8, 2021, Oudomsine used the funds obtained from SBA by means of false and fraudulent representation to purchase a Pokémon card for $57,789,” the charging documents said.
Driven by nostalgia and the pandemic, America is in the midst of a Pokémon crisis and prices of individual cards have skyrocketed, but few of them are going for as high a price as Oudomsine paid.
A highly graded Lugia or Charizard might hit that price. Logan Paul paid $226,000 for a mint condition first edition Charizard, which he turned into a medallion that he wore ahead of his fight with Floyd Mayweather. The market has cooled slightly, but Oudomsine allegedly bought this card at the height of the market earlier this year. The collectible card game market is so massive right now that the private equity firm Blackstone Group, Inc. purchased a company that grades the cards for the secondary market in July. The deal valued the grading company at more than $500 million.
Purchasing one card for almost $60,000 doesn’t seem like a wise investment, but it just might pay off in these heady days of burgeoning speculative markets. If it hadn’t been purchased with federal SBA money, that is. Oudomsine has not responded to requests for comment from multiple news outlets and he has yet to enter a plea in the case. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years and fines up to $250,000.