A man from Georgia has been charged with wire fraud, after allegedly spending over $57,000 USD from a COVID-19 business relief loan on a Pokemon card.
The New York Post and The Telegraph report Vinath Oudomsine applied for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) in July 2020 to help with pay, debts, and more. The loan was set up as part of the CARES Act in March 2020. However, Prosecutors claim Oudomsine falsely applied, lying about how many employees he had, and his yearly revenues (reportedly ten employees and $235,000 USD respectively).
This resulted in the Small Business Association (SBA) depositing $85,000 into Oudomsine’s bank account in August 2020. The majority of this money allegedly went to purchase a single Pokemon trading card worth $57,789 USD in January of this year. What Oudomsine was using the money for between August 2020 and January 2021 was not reported, nor the name of the card in question.
While a humorous headline, Oudomsine could receive 20 years in federal prison if found guilty, and up to $250,000 USD in fines. The Telegraph notes however that “the actual sentence is usually far less.”
The Office of Inspector General stated that $4.5 billion USD was provided by the SBA, but 542,897 sole proprietors applied with no Employer Identification Numbers (EIN) while claiming they had more than one employee. This would mean an over disbursement of $3.5 billon USD. An additional over disbursement of an estimated $1 billion USD occurred from 161,197 independent contractors.
Rare Pokemon cards have seen numbers that make $57,000 USD seem like a pittance. This year alone, a Shadowless 1st Edition Holo Charizard card sold for $311,800 USD, and a box of first edition unopened booster packs for $408,000 USD. The most expensive single cards have sold from $90,000 USD, to $399,750 USD depending on reports.
Both Target in the US and the Pokemon Center stores in Japan announced this year they would stop selling Pokemon cards for the safety of their customers. Though it should be noted Target also banned sports card sales as well.
Scalpers also bought McDonald’s Happy Meals en masse, and employees accused of selling boxes of the cards, selling for around $800 USD. As such, the promotion will reportedly have a one additional “toy” per customer restrictions in the UK.
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