When the world’s governments announced their economy-easing efforts to stem losses caused by the pandemic, these systems – offering relief in exchange for often scant evidence – were always going to be prey to unscrupulous businesses seeking to make a fast buck during the confusion.
But the recent conviction of a Georgia USA businessman takes Covid relief fund fraud to a whole new, pokéball-sy level.
Rather than wisely (and legally) spend the full $85,000 he’d successfully obtained in relief funding – designed to pay rents and workers’ wages – Vinath Oudomsine couldn’t resist diverting some of his pandemic windfall – the intriguingly angular sum of $57,789, in fact – in the direction of a rare Pokémon card.
Of course it could be argued that this diversion of funding was a (Sand)shrewd investment, given that rare cards are on the rise (with one holographic Charizard going for over $300,000 on eBay).
And all the evidence suggests that Oudomsine’s card was a similar find given that a first-edition, shadowless, holographic Charizard with a 9.5 gem mint rating was sold at the PWCC marketplace for the exact sum of $57,789 in late December 2021.
Perhaps his actions were a noble attempt to repay the government’s generosity and weren’t necessarily Eevee-l? Flipping their $57,000 into $300,000 sounds more like public service than theft to us.
Unfortunately it appears that officials involved thought otherwise and Oudomsine has been sentenced three years (Chariz)’ard labour…