An Iowa woman and a Minnesota man both committed crimes directly related to the federal government – and TikTok played a role in both.
At the end of February, the Federal Government banned the app TikTok from government-owned devices, mandating employees to delete it from any government-issued phones by the end of March. The reason for the ban pertains to national security concerns and the app’s country of origin – China. The FBI and FCC believe TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance could share user data with the Chinese government.
Unrelated to the ban, however, TikTok has entered the federal government’s realm through two different crimes that led to recent prison sentences for both perpetrators. In one case, a 28-year-old woman used the social media platform to brag about extravagant purchases she made with money stolen from the Federal Employee Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program. The other incident involved a 53-year-old man posting numerous videos on TikTok in which he pretended to be both a Navy Seal and an agent at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
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Back in the Summer of 2022, Reyel D. Simmons of Minnesota was sentenced to six years in prison for impersonating a federal officer. In several TikTok videos, Simmons brandished guns, forged documents, and a fake DHS badge. He said he pretended to be a DHS officer to impress women. But it was a woman he was dating who alerted authorities of the fraud when she found out he wasn’t actually a federal agent.
Around the time of Simmons’ sentencing, an Iowa woman named Jordyn D. Culp was posting videos on TikTok about several high-end purchases, including a motorcycle, a home, a wedding, and more. Although in the videos she claimed that the money was from work bonuses, she had actually been transferring cash from a FEGLI account into her personal bank account while working for a life insurance company. The stolen amount totaled $273,698. Culp received an 18-month sentence for wire fraud in February. She also had to forfeit many of the items she bought and will have to pay the government restitution when she gets out of jail. Both Simmons and Culp will be on parole for at least three years after their time in prison.
Until Next Time,
**Written by Benjamin Derge, Financial Planner, ChFEBC℠ The information has been obtained from sources considered reliable but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Benjamin Derge and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize, or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors.