Man pretended to be Homeland Security agent, feds say


Authorities recovered items inside a man’s bag that suggested he was a U.S. Department of Homeland Security agent and a Navy SEAL, prosecutors said. The man was sentenced to prison on charges of impersonating a federal officer and illegally possessing firearms.

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota

A 53-year-old man pretended to be an agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to thousands of his TikTok followers, federal officials said.

Reyel Devon Simmons was sentenced to six years in prison on charges of impersonating a federal officer and illegally possessing firearms as a felon, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota said in a June 3 news release.

Simmons is accused of posing as a federal agent to his nearly 10,000 TikTok followers by posting photos of himself in gear that suggested he was an agent from January 2021 until September 2021, prosecutors said in his plea agreement and sentencing stipulations documents.

He told investigators he posed as an agent to gain attention from women and specifically for one woman he had been dating for eight months, according to the complaint.

That woman, whom he met through his TikTok profile, discovered he was not an agent and reported him to the FBI, according to a complaint.

An attorney for Simmons did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment.

He wore law enforcement clothing, including body armor and a DHS badge while also holding firearms in his TikTok posts, according to court documents.

Outside the social media platform, he wore a T-shirt with a DHS logo and carried a backpack that he called a “go bag” — a bag law enforcement keeps in case of emergencies, court documents show.

Simmons also said he was a U.S. Navy SEAL for years despite never being in the military, prosecutors said in court documents.

And he sent a photo to a woman in 2017 posing as an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer, prosecutors said.

In addition to six years in prison, Simmons was ordered to three years of supervised release.

Helena Wegner is a McClatchy National Real-Time Reporter covering the state of Washington and the western region. She’s a journalism graduate from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She’s based in Phoenix.

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