Fraudster Blows Nearly $60K in Federal Aid on Mystery Pokémon Card

A man from Dublin, Georgia, faces a $250,000 fine and up to 20 years in jail for spending more than $57,000 of a COVID support loan on a Pokémon card.

Pokémon is an enormously popular phenomenon. The trading card game has spawned numerous spinoffs over its 25-year history and has produced its fair share of rabid fans. None, perhaps, quite so rabid as Vinath Oudomsine, a Georgian man who used a substantial portion of a COVID-19 relief loan to purchase a rare Pokémon card.

Area website The Telegraph reports that Oudomsine was last week charged with a single count of wire fraud as a result of the $57,000 purchase. Oudomsine, according to court documents, lied in his application for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), misrepresenting how many employees worked at his company.

The Dublin, Georgia resident applied for the loan in July 2020, according to the charges filed in the Southern District of Georgia. At the time, Oudomsine claimed a total of 10 employees and a gross annual turnover of $235,000. The Small Business Administration subsequently awarded him with a loan of $84,000. The money was intended for use as working capital or business expenses, like rent or utility payments. Instead, in January 2021, Oudomsine used the sum of $57,789 to purchase a rare Pokémon card.

The exact nature of the card worth facing a potential fine of $250,000 and up to twenty years in federal prison was not revealed by court documents — only the value was listed. Such high-value purchases are not out of the ordinary in the world of the Pokémon Trading Card Game. One of the most valuable Pokémon cards ever recorded is a 1999 First Edition Shadowless Holographic Charizard #4, which was sold by Heritage Auctions for a total of $300,000 in January 2021.

The value of Pokémon cards lies primarily in their rarity, as evidenced by the Shiny Charizard #4. That particular variant was printed without a shadow under the illustrated Charizard itself. The printing error was corrected shortly into the production run for Charizard #4, meaning most of the cards released that year lack the value-increasing fault. The card’s condition, in this case a Gem Mint 10 rating, also accounts for part of the inflated value.

Even a solid gold Pokémon card, a 24-karat commemorative reprint of the original Pikachu card created by a Japanese jeweler for the game’s 20th anniversary that weighs 11 grams, only fetches about $2,100 — a far cry from a card in the multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars. That card’s rarity lies in its limited production run and the random nature of buying one — potential buyers had to enter and win a lottery to be eligible to purchase the 220,00 yen collectible.

Vinath Oudomsine and his attorneys, when approached for comment by various media outlets including The Telegraph and NPR, declined to comment on the ongoing court case.

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