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U.S. Government gets big into Pokémon after seizing $57K Charizard card in COVID loan scam

Word of advice: don't defraud the U.S. Government, even if you really, really want to buy that rare Pokémon card. 

By Vanessa Armstrong
Pikachu and Charizard in Pokemon Detective Pikachu

Those who are into Pokémon (especially if they are of a certain age) know about Charizard, a fire-breathing dragon who is one of the most popular, powerful, and imposing Pokémons out there. 

Charizard cards are so popular and so rare that versions have sold for up to $369,000. That’s an impressive price tag, even for a creature who can pulverize its opponents into goo. They’re so coveted by Pokémon card collectors, in fact, that at least one person was apparently willing to defraud the U.S. Government to get their hands on one.

According to the Associated Press, 31-year-old Vinath Oudomsine of Dublin, Georgia illegally applied for a COVID-19 relief loan last year when he inflated his “entertainment services” company’s annual revenues and said that it employed more people than it actually did. Oudomsine received $85,000 from the government and used two-thirds of that — $57,789, to be exact — to buy a Charizard card. 

Oudomsine pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, and his plea agreement with acting U.S. Attorney David Estes of the South District of Georgia included three years in prison as well as turning Charizard over to the Feds. Whether this means the U.S. Department of Justice is now into Pokémon collecting is unclear, though the Federal Government is likely the envy of many a Charizard fan at this point. 

For those of us who can’t afford a Charizard card and don’t want to defraud the U.S. Government, we can see a version of the dragon-like creature in 2019’s live-action movie, Detective Pikachu