Oregon Man Working Remotely For Provo Company Charged With Using Position, Access To Defraud Company
SALT LAKE CITY – A federal indictment unsealed Wednesday charges Dustin Erhardt, age 33, of Beaverton, Ore., with five counts of wire fraud in connection with what the indictment alleges was a scheme to use his position and access as a contractor to defraud a Provo company.
According to the indictment, Erhardt began working as a contractor for Dark Energy, a Provo business, on March 27, 2017. His primary job was to do marketing for Dark Energy. He worked remotely and never met the owner of the company in person, the indictment says. His responsibilities included managing Dark Energy’s Amazon seller account.
Dark Energy makes military grade power products, including the Poseidon Device, which is a portable charger that is waterproof and crushproof. The device retails for $99.99, according to the indictment. One of the places the company sells its products is on Amazon. The company keeps its products at a warehouse in Salt Lake City, managed by Agile Supply Chain Strategies.
The indictment alleges that from about July 6, 2017 through about Dec. 7, 2017, Erhardt devised a scheme to defraud his employer. As a part of the scheme, Erhardt used Dark Energy’s confidential information without authorization, including login information to its warehouse, to ship to company’s products to himself or to Amazon Fulfillment Centers for sale on his own Amazon account. The indictment alleges he pocketed the proceeds of the scheme. According to the indictment, Erhardt stole at least 1,102 Poseidon Devices from Dark Energy through his scheme.
The indictment alleges that when the company discovered that there were unauthorized sellers on Amazon, who had somehow acquired the Poseidon devices, Erhardt offered to find out who the unauthorized sellers were in an effort to conceal his theft from the company. When Erhardt was laid off in December 2017, Dark Energy was still unaware he was the unauthorized Amazon seller. He continued to sell the remaining Poseidon Devices he had diverted from the company. As the investigation into continued, law enforcement officers discovered Erhardt was the unauthorized seller.
Erhardt was arrested Wednesday morning in Oregon and had an initial appearance in federal court in Oregon. He is not in custody. His next court appearance will be Thursday at 3:45 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Furse in Salt Lake City. The maximum potential penalty for each of the five counts of wire fraud is 20 years in federal prison.
Indictments are not findings of guilt. Individuals charged in indictments are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys in Salt Lake City are prosecuting the case. It is being investigated by the FBI’s Cyber Task Force and Provo Police Department Detective Robert Payne, who is a member of the Cyber Task Force.