Georgia man jailed after spending $60K of covid disaster relief on a Pokémon card

An FBI agent stares at a Pokemon card.
(Image credit: Nes via Getty Images)

A Georgia man, Vinath Oudomsine, 31, was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to Wire Fraud. Oudomsine lied to a government loan program that was set up to provide covid disaster relief, claiming he ran an 'entertainment services' business with 10 employees during the pandemic, and received a loan of $85,000 in August 2020.

Five months after receiving the loan, in January 2021, Oudomsine spent $57,789 of the money on a first-edition shiny Charizard card from the Pokémon TCG.

Oudomsine's claim was subsequently investigated and... a wild Federal prosecutor appeared! As well as the prison sentence, he has to pay a $10,000 fine and restitution of the full $85,000. Per the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia "Oudomsine agreed to forfeit the Pokémon card—'Charizard'—as part of the prosecution."

“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, a Special Agent from FBI Atlanta. Mr Wislar doesn't sound like much of a Pokémon fan, even though he clearly lives by the motto 'gotta catch 'em all.'

There have been countless cases of covid relief funds being misappropriated by bad actors, though this seems to be the first where the ill-gotten gains have been spent on a Charizard. Funniest part is, the card this guy bought isn't even graded a 10: it's a 9.5. The shiny Charizard may be the most sought-after of Pokémon cards, but only the 10s go for wild money.

Pokémon card expert and dealer Charlie Hurlocker didn't hold back on what he thought, telling the New York Times that "[Oudomsine] was buying at the peak of the market. It was a terrible short-term purchase. Nobody was willing to pay more than him."

The Charizard is currently being held by the U.S. Marshals, which will in time auction it, and the proceeds will eventually be returned to the Small Business Administration (the outfit that was initially defrauded).

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."