Sometimes, truth really is stranger than fiction. When most criminals manage to defraud the government out of nearly $100,000, they spend their cash on a new car, an apartment, or maybe even jewelry. But when one man committed Covid relief fraud, he decided to spend his money on something that most people would never consider — a single Pokemon card. This story is making headlines around the world, and it shows that Covid relief fraud can be both ridiculous and incredibly serious at the same time.
If you have been charged with Covid relief fraud or any type of fraud, for that matter, get in touch with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. With help from one of our legal professionals, you can mitigate any potential consequences you might be facing. Sometimes, the help of a solid attorney can be the difference between prison time and freedom, so book your consultation today to begin working on a defense strategy.
Man Uses $57,000 in Covid Relief Funds to Buy a Single Pokemon Card
On March 7th, it was reported that a man from Laurens County had been sentenced to 36 months in a federal prison after using Covid relief funds to purchase a Pokemon card. This individual fraudulently obtained $85,000 in the form of a Covid-19 disaster relief loan by lying to the Small Business Administration. He stated that he had a small business with 10 employees and gross revenues of $235,000 within the past year. He then obtained an Economic Injury Disaster Loan for $85,000 in August of 2020.
Almost $60,000 were then used to purchase a rare Pokemon card. This card was apparently a “shiny” Charizard, which is one of the rarest Pokemon cards in existence. Fortunately, the authorities managed to seize the Pokemon card, and the rare collectible will ostensibly be sold. The resulting funds will be used to compensate the federal government for their losses. The defendant will also be required to pay $85,000 in restitution as part of his sentence.
Covid-19 Loans Not to Be Used for “Trivial Collectible Items”
In a statement, Special Agent Philip Wislar stressed that:
“COVID-19 disaster relief loans are issued by the government to help businesses struggling to survive during a pandemic, not to use for trivial collectible items. This sentence highlights the FBI’s commitment to aggressively pursue anyone who would abuse taxpayer dollars and divert them from citizens who desperately need them.”
What are the Penalties for Covid Relief Fraud?
In this case, the defendant was charged with one count of wire fraud. Under federal law, wire fraud is a Class C felony. This means that you may face up to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. In addition, you may face three years of supervised release. This individual obviously escaped with a relatively minor sentence of just 36 months, and this might have been because he pleaded guilty.
Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today
If you have been searching the Georgia area for an experienced criminal defense attorney, look no further than Lankford & Moore Law. We know that facing fraud charges can be incredibly distressing, and we are here to help. Book your consultation today, and we can immediately start going over potential defense strategies. With our assistance, you can approach this difficult situation with confidence and efficiency.