Pokemon Cards
Image: Nintendo Life

Update [Fri March 11th, 11:30 GMT]: The individual in question has now been named as Vinath Oudomsine from Georgia. Following his arrest, he has been sentenced to 3 years in prison for using Covid-19 relief money to purchase a rare Charizard card for $57,789, wiping out more than half of the $85,000 awarded to him.

The card in question was a first-edition Charizard card from 1999 and was graded a 9.5 from professional grading company Beckett. Mr. Oudomsine has agreed to turn the card over to prosecutors and will be required to pay the $85,000 in restitution alongside an additional $10,000. He will be subject to three years' supervision following his eventual release from prison.

We've seen plenty of reports and evidence over the last few years to show us that the market of rare Pokémon cards has been getting increasingly volatile, with the collectibles becoming - in some cases - highly valued and speculative investments. Now there's a rather extraordinary report of a small business owner allegedly defrauding a coronavirus relief fund in order to invest in a card.

This has emerged due to a filing online of a federal prosecution, which states that the individual in Georgia (USA) applied for small business aid through the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) in July 2020. It is claimed that the individual made 'false statements about the number of individuals his company employed and his company's gross revenue' in order to claim from the fund - they received $85,000.

The rather extraordinary part of the document states that the individual 'used the funds obtained from SBA by means of false and fraudulent representation to purchase a Pokémon card for $57,789'. As we know some of the rare cards do sell for significant sums of money in that ball park.

A reminder that these are, undoubtedly, strange times.

[source npr.org, via documentcloud.org, polygon.com]