While most actors of the crypto industry are going above and beyond to raise awareness of the general population and investors about the innovative digital currency, and instill trust in the digital money of the next generation, other not-so-interested parties are sometimes unknowingly torpedoing the hard-won reputation of cryptocurrencies.
One of the latest instances of such reputational hazard concerns Dennis Blieden, a former executive at one of Hollywood's numerous digital marketing agencies. According to the press release issued by the U.S. Attorney Office of the Central District of California, Blieden has pleaded guilty of taking the unlawful possession of a staggering sum of $22 million, which belonged to his former employee. Apparently, he didn't think of a better way to spend such a hefty amount of money than gambling with cryptocurrencies, playing online poker, and buying some trendy merchandise and other miscellaneous stuff.
Dennis Blieden is a 30-years old former supervisor and vice president of accounting and finance at one of Hollywood's renowned digital marketing agencies called StyleHaul Inc., which is famous for cooperating with many well-regarded social media influencers and YouTubers. Once based in California, the company had relocated its headquarters to London, though it is unclear whether this migration was caused by the wrongdoings of its previous senior executive or due to an unrelated reason.
While working at StyleHaul, Blieden was responsible for overseeing all the company's financial operations and bank accounts. He used this privileged position to concoct false accounting records that should have had the appearance of payments made to StyleHaul's real customers. However, his fraudulent schemes were not limited to the falsification of account records. Blieden has been cooking the books to the fullest extent by creating false wire transfer confirmations from Western Union, which were also camouflaged as payments to the agency's clients. The fraudster had also been making numerous wire transfers to his personal bank account, describing them as equity draws that StyleHaul had to pay him as per the employment agreement. This "criminal creativity" has been classified by the U.S. Department of Justice as a federal offense that constitutes multiple instances of wire fraud.
But that's not all: Blieden has also been charged with aggravated identity theft for forging the rental lease of a luxurious condo located in Rosarito Beach, one of Mexico's finest ocean resorts. He had transferred $230 thousand via falsified invoices issued to StyleHaul for renting the property for business needs.
All in all, Dennis Blieden had embezzled around $22 million, which he has subsequently spent on entry tickets to various poker tournaments, paying off his credit card debts, and buying cryptocurrencies, which he also used for gambling purposes. The court documents state that Blieden had written $1,2 million worth of checks to other poker players, and used another $1,1 million to resolve the debt issues. $8,4 million, which constitutes a sizable bulk of stolen money, were being spent on cryptocurrencies, a part of which the perpetrator kept in digital wallets, while the rest had been gambled away in different all-for-crypto online poker tournaments.
The final verdict will be carried out during the sentencing hearing scheduled for March 20, 2020. Blieden will face 22 years of jail time in the federal penitentiary.
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