Cryptocurrency is an emerging market and as a result, it comes with several complications that are expected of any industry in this stage of growth. Besides the obvious lack of information in certain parts of the world, scammers and regulation that is not completely defined there are also those who, due to being passionate about the industry, have gone on to commit wither unwise or illegal acts. A few years ago, there were viral stories of people who used all their life savings to buy crypto or stole electricity to mine bitcoin and so on.
In the latest of these, a former executive at a digital marketing firm in Hollywood has pled guilty to stealing $22 million from his former firm in order to buy cryptocurrency.
To the Stars
The announcement was made on November 22, 2019, by the United States Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California that Dennis Blieden has played guilty to wire fraud and identity theft. Blieden had reportedly embezzled $22 million from his former employer which was used to buy cryptocurrency, feed his gambling habits as well as cover several personal expenses. At the time of the test, Blieden had worked as the controller and vice president of accounting and finance at StyleHaul Inc., a digital marketing agency which represents influencers within the social media space and had control of the company’s finances which he later abused.
From October 2015 to March 2019, Byron had stolen $1.2 million to write personal checks to poker players, another $1.1 million in order to pay off credit card debt and $8.8 million which was transferred to his cryptocurrency accounts and now faces up to 22 years in prison.
“To conceal his scheme, Blieden made fraudulent entries in StyleHaul’s accounting records, falsely representing that the illegal wire transfers he made were authorized payments of money due to StyleHaul clients. Blieden also falsely indicated on one of StyleHaul’s bank accounts that wire transfers to Blieden’s personal bank account were “equity” draws that the company owed him. […] Blieden created fictitious wire transfer letters that purported to be from Western Union and were designed to make it appear that he had caused wire transfers from StyleHaul to pay money it purportedly owed to a client,” the official statement says.