Former Chief Digital Officer of Premium Entertainment Network Charged with $8 Million Fraud.
Who: Emil Rensing, former Chief Digital Officer at a Premium Movie Network (the “Network”), the Defendant.
What: Emil Rensing was charged by the Southern District of New York with 1 count of Wire Fraud (carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison), and 1 count of Aggravated Identity Theft (carrying a mandatory minimum of 2 years, which must run consecutively with any other period of imprisonment imposed – meaning, they can’t be combined).
Where: New York, New York
When: The crimes allegedly happened between about October 2010 to August 2015. Rensing was charged on April 26, 2016.
Why: Emil Rensing was a Chief Digital Officer at the Network. He was responsible for the Network’s digital technology, by, for example, providing content to Network customers on various electronic devices. More importantly, though, he was responsible for obtaining vendors to provide services for the Network’s digital department.
Emil Rensing simultaneously owned 2 vendor companies, which he allegedly used to charge the Network for about $8 million for services that were basically never performed according to the Network.
How: Since Rensing was responsible for obtaining the vendors, he had control over approving these vendors. He was charged with contracting with his own vendor companies using false names as the “contact” person and persons designated to perform these duties.
The problem is, he used the names of acquaintances that either never worked for either of the vendor companies, or never worked for these vendor companies in the capacity they were listed. Interviews with these people, 1099 and other tax forms confirmed that many, if not all of these people ever worked for either of the vendor companies that Rensing owned and used to bill the Network.
So how were these crimes tied to Rensing? The complaint tells us some of the following:
- While Rensing denied any direct or indirect financial interest in either of these vendor companies in recorded interviews with the Network’s attorneys, bank accounts tied to these vendors listed Rensing as the President of the companies, and listed Rensing as the sole individual with signature authority over the accounts. The Network deposited money into these accounts.
- One of the Service Agreements between the Network and one of Rensing’s vendor companies stated that the vendor was to “report directly” to Rensing.
- The people listed as the contact persons in the service agreements, after interviews, turned out to be acquaintances of Rensing who either never worked for or with Rensing, or had never worked in the capacity they were listed. All persons listed and interviewed denied any knowledge of their names being used on any of these agreements, and of course stated they never did any of the work outlined in these agreements.
- At least 1 phone number listed as contact phone numbers of these acquaintances came back as registered to Rensing.
- At least 1 email address used as contact emails for these agreements, which the acquaintances denied as being theirs, contained a “recovery email address” containing Rensing’s first name and last initial (“emilr”).
- At least 1 email account was used and created via an IP address that went back to Rensing’s residence. The person this email address was supposed to belong to denied ever visiting Rensing’s residence.
- Invoices were submitted by the vendor company to the Network via an IP address that went back to Rensing’s residence.
- Signatures of the same person appeared different on different documents, all of which said person denied ever signing.
- The physical address listed on at least 1 vendor company, after simply visiting and interviewing people at the location, confirmed that said company never existed at that address.