Man jailed after starting fake company to claim Covid relief funds so he could buy rare Pokemon card worth £43,000

Vinath Oudomsine and Pokémon Store
Vinath Oudomsine and Pokémon Store

He was granted £64,000 in August 2020 to save his non-existent "entertainment services" business

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An American man has been sentenced to three years in prison after he started a fake company in a ploy to receive government pandemic relief funds so that he could purchase a rare Pokemon card.

The mint-condition card, which has now been seized by the FBI is worth $57,000, equating to around £43,000.

Vinath Oudomsine, 31, from Dublin, Georgia, has admitted requesting money from the loan scheme to save his non-existent “entertainment services company” which he said was set up a year before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

After claiming the company generated revenues of $235,000 (£178,424) The Small Business Administration (SBA) granted him $85,000 (£64,000) in August 2020 according to prosecutors. Oudomsine used most of the money to buy the Pokemon card which depicts the dragon-like character Charizard.

Philip Wislar, acting special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta, said in a statement: "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.

“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".

The 31 year-old Pokemon enthusiast also received a hefty $10,000 (£7,592) fine and must pay $85,000 (£64,550) in restitution.

The Charizard card will be sold at auction with the proceeds being returned to the SBA.

David Estes, the US attorney for the southern district of Georgia, also commented: “Like moths to the flame, fraudsters like Oudomsine took advantage of these programmes to line their own pockets.

"We are holding him and others accountable for their greed".