LOS ANGELES – A federal grand jury today indicted the former CEO of a Los Angeles-based digital media company on charges that allege he created a series of companies that defrauded his employer out of at least $3 million by submitting bills for services never provided or at inflated prices.
Victor Belonogoff, 46, who is believed to reside in San Mateo, California, is charged in the indictment with bilking Render Media, Inc., a Beverly Grove-based company he co-founded and ran until late 2018. Belonogoff is charged in the indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine substantive counts of wire fraud.
Belonogoff, through his attorney, has agreed to surrender to federal authorities on April 26.
Belonogoff, who held several positions at Render, including chief executive officer, secretly formed six digital media and advertising companies that he used to defraud Render, according to the indictment. Belonogoff allegedly caused Render to pay his fraudulent digital media companies for products and services that were never provided or were sold to Render at inflated prices. Belonogoff is accused of diverting Render’s incoming revenue to his fraudulent digital media companies, using Render’s lines of credit to support them, and using the sham companies to misappropriate Render’s brand and content.
The indictment specifically alleges that Belonogoff caused Render to pay one of his companies for video content that was never provided. Belonogoff also allegedly caused two of the fraudulent companies to sell Render internet traffic at inflated prices and to re-code internet traffic sold to Render to make it falsely appear as though his companies generated that traffic. Belonogoff also caused one of his companies to post Render’s content while keeping 90% of the revenue generated by that content, according to the indictment.
To conceal his fraud, Belonogoff allegedly deleted emails from his Render account and later provided false testimony at a deposition in a lawsuit brought against him by Render.
The indictment alleges that Belonogoff caused Render to pay his fraudulent digital media companies more than $3 million, much of which went to his personal accounts and was used for his personal benefit.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If he is convicted of the wire fraud charges in the indictment, Belonogoff would face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each of the 10 counts.
Federal prosecutors previously charged one of Belonogoff’s co-conspirators with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Aryeh Kluger, 34, of San Antonio, who was a vice president at Render, pleaded guilty to the charge in October 2020, admitting that he and Belonogoff “exploit[ed] Render’s business model by employing a sophisticated embezzlement scheme involving third-party companies they controlled.” United States District Judge Stephen V. Wilson is scheduled to sentence Kluger on October 24.
The FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation are conducting the investigation in this matter.
Assistant United States Attorney Gregory Bernstein of the Major Frauds Section is prosecuting this case.