Dennis Blieden, 29, a former executive at StyleHaul Inc., a digital marketing company that represents “influencers” on YouTube and Instagram, has been arrested for embezzling $22 million from his employer and using the stolen money for buy-ins at professional poker tournaments, crypto-currency investing, and other personal expenses. He has been charged with 11 counts of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, and two forfeiture counts.
According to the indictment, between October 2015 and March 2019, Blieden, the controller and vice president of accounting and finance for StyleHaul, wired the company's money to his personal bank accounts. Blieden disguised his behavior in several ways, including creating a fictitious lease in May 2018 for the rental of a condominium in Rosarito Beach, Mexico, which bore a forged signature of a StyleHaul executive.
The indictment further alleges that Blieden illicitly transferred $230,000 of StyleHaul's funds for his own personal use by falsely representing that the condominium was being rented for business purposes for StyleHaul's clients and employees. Blieden also created fictitious wire transfer letters purportedly from Western Union to make it falsely appear that he had caused wire transfers from StyleHaul to a client to pay money due to the client, the indictment alleges.
Blieden, who has entered and won professional poker tournaments, also frequently During the alleged scheme, Blieden used money he stole from his employer to write $1,204,000 in personal checks to poker players, $1,134,956 was used to pay off his credit cards, and $8,473,734 was transferred to Blieden's crypto-currency accounts, according to court documents. Shortly before his dismissal from StyleHaul, Blieden entered into two poker tournaments, where the buy-in amounts were $52,000 and $103,000.
If convicted of all charges, Blieden would face a statutory maximum sentence of more than 200 years in federal prison.
REMEMBER: Never bite the hand that feeds you.