A Georgia man has admitted to using federal COVID-19 relief funds to purchase a rare Pokémon card for $57,789, giving us some closure on a story that went viral earlier this week. One mystery that has remained, however, is what card Vinath Oudomsine purchased, and whether—fraud notwithstanding—this was a good investment.
Motherboard, with the help of a reader, has found the auction, which was for a BGS-graded 9.5 First Edition Base Set Charizard. The card was sold on PWCC auctions on December 28, 2020, and the payment had to be made within 15 days of the close of the auction, well within the January 8 timeline provided by federal prosecutors.
Now that we know the specifics, it is the opinion of Motherboard editor-in-chief and semiprofessional Pokemon card salesman Jason Koebler that this was a reasonable and perhaps even good investment (again, fraud notwithstanding!). The grading company at issue is Beckett Grading Services, which is notoriously the toughest card grading service out there. A BGS 9.5, then, is often equivalent to a PSA 10, which is the most popular grading service. It’s possible to get a BGS 9.5 card regarded as a 10 by PSA, and a lot of people do this. A year ago, a PSA 10 First Edition Charizard sold for $360,000; just before that, the rapper Logic bought one for $220,000, and earlier this week a collectibles company started selling fractional shares of a PSA 10 First Edition Charizard that it valued at $236,800. Getting a BGS 9.5 First Edition Charizard for $57,789, then, is a steal, especially if you could get it regraded as a 10.
Anyways, Oudomsine applied for and received $85,000 in aid from Washington, according to The Macon Telegraph. “The unlawful taking of taxpayer dollars is always disgusting, but in this context, the taking from emergency relief funds intended to help our neighbors and their businesses is outrageous,” acting U.S. Attorney Attorney Estes said in a press release.“I want the hard working citizens of this District to know that this Office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who would fraudulently obtain and misuse these relief funds.”
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