An Oregon man is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City Thursday after he allegedly committed several acts of wire fraud against a Provo company.
According to a recently unsealed federal indictment, 33-year-old Dustin Erhardt of Beaverton, Oregon, worked remotely for Utah-based Dark Energy, a company that makes military-grade power products. Authorities allege that Erhardt, who managed the company’s Amazon seller account, used his position and access as a contractor to defraud Dark Energy.
Erhardt began working as a contractor for Dark Energy in March of 2017, working primarily in marketing for the Provo company, according to the indictment. The documents state that from July 2017 until about Dec. 7, 2017, Erhardt devised a scheme to defraud his employer.
As a part of the arrangement, Erhardt allegedly used Dark Energy’s confidential information, including login information to the company’s warehouse, to ship products to himself, or to Amazon Fulfillment Centers, which he then placed for sale on his own Amazon account. Erhardt allegedly pocketed the proceeds that resulted from successful sales.
Indictment documents assert that Erhardt stole over 1,100 Poseidon Devices from Dark Energy during his time working at the company. The Poseidon Device is a portable charger that is waterproof and crushproof that retails for about $99.99.
When the company initially discovered unauthorized sellers on Amazon had acquired the Poseidon devices, Erhardt allegedly offered to find the unauthorized sellers.
When Erhardt was laid off on Dec. 7, 2017, the company was still unaware he was the unauthorized seller. Officials assert that Erhardt volunteered to find the unauthorized sellers as a means to cover his tracks.
Even after his termination from Dark Energy, Erhardt allegedly continued to sell the remaining Poseidon devices he had taken from the company. Following his departure, however, the company involved law enforcement to investigate the unauthorized sellers.
As the investigation continued, law enforcement officers discovered Erhardt was the unauthorized seller.
Officials arrested Erhardt on Feb. 5 and had an initial appearance in federal court in Oregon. He is not currently in custody.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys in Salt Lake City are prosecuting the case, and the FBI’s Cyber Task Force and the Provo City Police Department are involved in the investigation.
Erhardt is expected to appear in court before U.S. Magistrate Furse in Salt Lake City at 3:45 p.m. Thursday. He faces five counts of wire fraud, and the maximum potential penalty for each of the charges is 20 years in federal prison.