Catching Pokémon

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Vinath Oudomsine, of Dublin, Ga., was sentenced to federal prison after pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud for illegally obtaining a COVID-19 disaster relief loan. You might find it very interesting that he used a large portion of the loan to buy a collectable Pokémon card. (I guess Pokémon’s “gotta catch ‘em all” line applies to both Pokémon and fraudsters.)

Around July 2020, Oudomsine applied to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) supposedly for an “entertainment services” business in Dublin that he claimed had 10 employees and gross revenues of $235,000 in the 12 months preceding the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The SBA deposited $85,000 into Oudomsine’s bank account despite the claim being fraudulent. (That means other legitimate small businesses couldn’t obtain loans.)

After receiving the fraudulent loan, Oudomsine used $57,789 of the funds to purchase a Pokémon trading card. As part of the prosecution, he agreed to hand over the “Charizard” Pokémon card. (How giving of him.)

The purpose of EIDL loans were to help businesses struggling during the COVID pandemic, not to use to purchase trivial collectible items. Was a Pokémon card really worth going to prison? (The answer is a resounding “NO.”)  

Oudomsine was sentenced to three years behind bars, to be followed by three years of supervised release. He was also fined $10,000 and ordered to pay $85,000 in restitution. (Hopefully this stiff sentencing will teach him and others a valuable lesson: if you do the crime, you’re going to do the time.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Georgia man who used COVID relief funds to buy Pokémon card sentenced to prison,” published on March 7, 2022.

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.

 

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.