“Gotta Catch ‘Em All”

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Male hands counting dollars, black salary, money laundering, illegal business, stock footage

“Gotta Catch ‘Em All” should be the slogan for pursuing all investigations into potential COVID-19 funding fraud. It is actually the English slogan for the Pokémon franchise. Committing fraud is what Vinath Oudomsine was trying to do when he bought the first-edition Pokémon trading card released in 1999 that features a dragon-like creature called Charizard. Cards are not only used for strategic power in the Pokemon game but also bought as potential investments that could pay back big in the future. Graded at a 9.5 out of 10, gem mint condition, Oudomisine purchased his card for $57,000 even though some speculated it was at the peak of the market.

Charlie Hurlocker, a Pokémon card expert and dealer, said that it was an ill-advised one on Mr. Oudomsine’s part. He said, “my advice would be to hold out.” Maybe other advice someone could have given to Oudomisine was to not use stolen PPP funds to buy the card.

Oudomsine applied to the Small Business Administration for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan ostensibly for an “entertainment services” business in Dublin, GA that Oudomsine claimed had 10 employees and gross revenues of $235,000 in the 12 months preceding the COVID-19 pandemic. There was no such company.  As a result of fraudulent representations on Oudomsine’s application, the SBA deposited $85,000 into Oudomsine’s bank account on Aug. 4, 2020. Oudomsine then used $57,789 of the funds to purchase the Pokémon trading card.

In addition to being sentenced to serve three years in federal prison, Oudomsine was fined $10,000 and was ordered to pay restitution of $85,000. He will also serve three years of supervised release after getting out of prison. He was ordered to forfeit his trading card.

Great job by the FBI in the investigation of this case.  Good luck to the Small Business Administration in the auction of the Pokemon card

Today’s Fraud of the Day is based on a article, “He Spent $57,000 in Covid Relief on a Pokémon Card. Now the U.S. Owns It” published by NY Times on March 8, 2022

In addition to being sentenced to serve three years in federal prison, Oudomsine was fined $10,000, was ordered to pay restitution of $85,000, and will serve three years of supervised release after getting out of prison. He was also ordered to forfeit his trading card.

The Charizard Pokemon card purchased by Vinath Oudomsine.Credit…U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of GeorgiaThe forfeitures have included Lamborghinis, gold bars and luxury goods from Dior.

But this may be the oddest seizure yet. Federal authorities say that they did not know at first what to make of a rare Pokémon trading card that they seized from a Georgia man who had used coronavirus relief money to buy the collectible.

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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.