A man from Georgia blew most of his COVID-19 small business loan on a $58,000 Pokémon card, prosecutors say

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Attendees compete at the Pokemon European International Championships at ExCel on November 17, 2017 in London, England
Collectors have been coughing up thousands to get their hands on rare Pokémon cards. John Keeble/Getty Images
  • Prosecutors say a man from Georgia spent $57,789 in pandemic relief loans on a Pokémon card.

  • The loans were meant to help small businesses cover the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The prosecutors accused Vinath Oudomsine of lying to the government about the size of his business.

A man from Georgia is accused of lying about the size of his business to a government agency and then blowing $57,789 of his pandemic-relief loan on a single Pokémon card.

Prosecutors charged Vinath Oudomsine from Dublin, Georgia, with wire fraud on October 19, saying he was granted the relief fund by making "false and fraudulent representations" to the Small Business Administration before spending most of it on the collectable, The Macon Telegraph first reported.

In March 2020 Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which made more small businesses eligible for the SBA's economic-injury disaster loans. The expansion was meant to help the owners of small businesses cover the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic by providing them with an emergency loan they could use on expenses such as payroll, production costs, and rent.

In a filing in the US District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, prosecutors wrote that Oudomsine "unjustly enriched himself by obtaining EIDL proceeds under false and misleading pretenses," including lying about his company's revenue and how many staff it employed.

Prosecutors said Oudomsine submitted an application for an SBA loan on July 14, 2020, for a business he said had existed since 2018, had 10 employees, and had an annual gross revenue of $235,000.

They said the SBA gave Oudomsine $85,000 the next month based on such information.

The filing didn't name Oudomsine's company or say what kind of business it was. It also didn't say how many people it was actually found to have employed or how much it made in revenue.

But the filing did reveal what prosecutors allege Oudomsine spent about two-thirds of his relief loan on: a $57,789 Pokémon card, which they said he bought in early January.

Federal attorneys said Oudomsine could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

A change-of-plea hearing has been scheduled for Thursday.

Neither the SBA nor Oudomsine's attorneys immediately responded to a request for comment from Insider.

In a statement shared with The Washington Post, the SBA said the Trump administration was behind the error, calling it "another example of the fraud that resulted from their lax controls."

Collectors have been coughing up thousands to get their hands on rare Pokémon cards.

A "Pikachu Illustrator" card, considered the rarest Pokémon trading card in existence, sold at auction for $195,000 in 2019, while Target stores paused stocking Pokémon, NFL, MLB, and NBA trading cards after their increasing resale value sparked a fight outside a store in Wisconsin in May.

Collectors and retailers say that scalpers, nostalgia, and YouTube have contributed to the boom in the cards' value.

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