StyleHaul executive Dennis Blieden has admitted stealing millions while working at the company between October 2015 and March 2019 as a Manager and Vice President of Accounting and Finance, splurging the money on poker tournaments and online gambling.
Hollywood-based StyleHaul has Instagram and YouTube celebrities as clients, with millions of followers such as Cameron Dallas, Zoella, and Joey Graceffa. It closed this year’s U.S. operations in March.
Prosecutors from the California Central District Attorney’s Office alleging that Blieden handled the bank accounts of the company and illegally wired money from those accounts to his account.
Winning the 2018 World Poker Tour Los Angeles Poker Classic and $1 M prize money, Blieden was very good at poker. He took part in two other poker tournaments at $52,000 and $103,000 with buy-ins the same year. He was praised for his style of playing “hyper-aggressive.”
Prosecutors also claim that Blieden wrote other poker players personal cheques worth $1,204,000. The intention behind these cheques was not mentioned.
Blieden purchased cryptocurrency from $8,473,734, which he spent on online gambling sites. He would have done well to remember the saying “The House always wins.” Fast cryptocurrency transactions means you can earn money faster, but you can also lose money at the same speed.
Eventually, Blieden used the stolen money to settle $1,134,956 worth of credit card debt. He has admitted that he robbed his employer of a whopping $22 M in all.
He forged another company employee’s signature to rent a condo for $230,000 on behalf of the company in Rosarito, Mexico, claiming it had been rented for business purposes.
Originally, Blieden was charged with 11 wire fraud charges, one count of aggravated identity theft, and two counts of forfeiture. He reached an agreement with the authorities and pleaded guilty to one charge of wire fraud and one count of aggravated theft of identity. He faces being locked away in gaol for up to 22 years. and will be sentenced on March 20.
This case brings accounting and auditing procedures practised by corporations to the forefront. The fact that even auditors were unable to detect the fraud of Blieden indicates that either they were too inept or he was too smart for them. It also demonstrates how a lack of oversight can cause a business to fail.