Covid-19: US man faces jail and fine for using relief fund to buy a Pokemon card

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A US man is facing jail and fine after he used a Covid-19 relief fund to buy a Pokemon card. ― Reuters pic
A US man is facing jail and fine after he used a Covid-19 relief fund to buy a Pokemon card. ― Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 26 ― A man from Georgia, United States, has been charged with using Covid-19 pandemic relief loan to buy a Pokemon card for US$57,000 (RM236,464).

Associated Press (AP) reported that court papers showed the man in Dublin, about 209 kilometres southeast of Atlanta, was charged with lying about the number of people his business employed and the company’s gross revenue on an application for a pandemic economic relief loan.

He faces one count of wire fraud.

Prosecutors said the man had received US$85,000 (RM352,622) in August last year, and used US$57,789 (RM239,737) to buy the Pokemon card in January.

According to the news agency, rare Pokemon cards can fetch thousands of dollars.

Collectors have been bidding up prices for trading cards, video games and other mementos.

USA Today reported that the accused, Vinath Oudomsine, had falsely applied for money from the Economic Injury Disaster Loans ― designed to help small businesses experiencing hardship because of the pandemic ― on July 14, 2020.

Oudomsine claimed he was the sole owner of a business that brought in US$235,000 (RM974,897) in a 12-month span and had 10 employees.

He was given the loan on August 4, 2020 and bought the card five months later on or around January 8.

Oudomsine faces up to 20 years in prison and US$250,000 (RM1,037,125) in fines if convicted.

This was not the first report of someone falsely obtaining Covid relief funds and spending the money lavishly.

Last month, Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta actor Maurice Fayne, also known as Arkansas Mo, was sentenced to 17 and a half years in prison for charges involving a fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program loan application.

Prosecutors said he spent money supposed to be used to retain workers for his business on past due child support, US$85,000 on custom jewellery and US$136,000 (RM564,196) to lease a Rolls-Royce.

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