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Man Sentenced to Jail After Buying 58,000 Dollar Pokemon Card with COVID Loans

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 19: A contestant looks at cards as he competes during the 2016 Pokemon World Championships on August 19, 2016 in San Francisco, California. Over 1,600 contestants from more than 30 countries are competing in tournaments of the Pokemon video game, Pokken and Trading Card Game events during the 2016 Pokemon World Championships. $500,000 in scholarships and prizes will be awarded to winners. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, GA:  A Laurens County, Georgia man has been sentenced to federal prison after admitting he lied to obtain a COVID-19 disaster relief loan, then used a large portion of the money to buy a collectible trading card.

Vinath Oudomsine, 31, of Dublin, Ga., was sentenced to 36 months in prison after pleading guilty to one count of Wire Fraud, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Judge Dudley H. Bowen also fined Oudomsine $10,000, ordered him to pay restitution of $85,000, and to serve three years of supervised release after completion of his prison term.

There is no parole in the federal system.

“Congress appropriated funding to assist small businesses struggling through the challenges of a global pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “Like moths to the flame, fraudsters like Oudomsine took advantage of these programs to line their own pockets – and with our law enforcement partners, we are holding him and others accountable for their greed.”

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As described in court documents and testimony, starting on or around July 2020, Oudomsine applied to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) ostensibly for an “entertainment services” business in Dublin that Oudomsine claimed had 10 employees and gross revenues of $235,000 in the 12 months preceding the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of fraudulent representations on Oudomsine’s application, the SBA deposited $85,000 into Oudomsine’s bank account on Aug. 4, 2020. Oudomsine later used $57,789 of the funds to purchase a Pokémon trading card. Oudomsine agreed to forfeit the Pokémon card – “Charizard” – as part of the prosecution.

“The SBA Office of Inspector General continues to safeguard taxpayer dollars by protecting SBA programs from fraudsters seeking to gain access to pandemic assistance through deception,” said SBA OIG’s Special Agent in Charge Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite. “OIG remains committed to rooting out bad actors and protecting the integrity of SBA programs. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners for their dedication and pursuit of justice.”

“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, Acting Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “This sentence highlights the FBI’s commitment to aggressively pursue anyone who would abuse taxpayer dollars and divert them from citizens who desperately need them.”

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General, and an investigator from the U.S. Attorney’s Office investigated the case. Oudomsine was prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan A. Porter and Patrick J. Schwedler, and Asset Recovery Unit Chief Xavier A. Cunningham handled forfeiture in the case.