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No, Sir, You Cannot Use a COVID Relief Loan on a Rare Pokémon Card!

This is not how you catch them all.

Pokémon Team Rocket

Vinath Oudomsine, a man from Dublin, Georgia, was recently charged with wire fraud for using more than two-thirds of his COVID relief loan on a rare Pokémon card. Originally reported by The Telegraph, the charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

Back in March 2020, when COVID really hit the ground running, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which “expanded eligibility and waived certain requirements for businesses applying to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program,” according to Hayley Fowler of The Telegraph. As to be expected, this money is meant to be used on, you know, your business, and not the way Oudomsine has used it.

Oudomsine submitted an application for an EIDL in July 2020 on behalf of a business he claimed to have been operating since 2018. He stated that he had 10 employees and earned a gross revenue of $235,000 a year (just below how much he could rack up in fines).

On August 4th, 2020, he received a loan of $85,000.

As someone who understands the absolute headache it was to attempt to apply for one of these relief loans last year (let alone get a positive response, and a positive one a month later), I’m kinda floored that this man would go through all that trouble for a Pokémon card – assuming that was his game plan from the start. The paperwork for these COVID relief loans is a nightmare where you have to have all kinds of proof to show your income, who works for you, and provide a breakdown of what you need the money for.

Also, the particular loan Oudomsine applied for is NOT eligible for forgiveness, so he will, eventually, have to repay that money back.

Is that really worth a Pokémon card? I don’t just mean that from a moral standpoint of lying your way to $85K when so many small businesses were suffering through COVID (yes, you are the asshole, Oudomsine), but… it’s a loan, my guy. How are you planning on paying that money back? WITH INTEREST! Especially when you already spent most of it on a single item!

Of course, I don’t know if Oudomsine really does own a business and misused the money like a bad boss in an episode of American Greed, or if he just lied about owning a business just so he could get that money. Again, did he always intend on using it for a Pokémon card? Or was he just trying to get tens of thousands of dollars then was tempted by some eBay listing of a rare first edition holographic EX Gold something something that he could add to his collection?

Or maybe he was gonna try and sell it back for more money? I’m sorry, I’m struggling to comprehend the thought process behind applying for something like COVID RELIEF and spending so much of it on a… well… we actually don’t know which Pokémon card he bought! According to Fowler, five months after receiving the loan, “Oudomsine used a large chunk of the funds to buy a Pokémon card for $57,789, prosecutors said. It wasn’t clear in court filings which Pokémon card Oudomsine is accused of purchasing, but certain rare and valuable Pokémon cards can sell for thousands of dollars.”

Kotaku has a list of examples from back in July this year to illustrate just how much these cards can go for. Interestingly, if we go off this list, then Oudomsine would’ve gotten something just below the #9 spot with that $57K. Conversely, if he used the entire loan amount, he could’ve gotten something below the #6 spot. This is as of July, though, who knows what the values are now.

The lesson here? Don’t apply for something like a “relief loan” in the name of Pikachu.

(Image: Pokémon)

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Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)