S2E09: Lloyd Temple, TikTok

S2E09: Lloyd Temple, TikTok

Holding over a decade of experience at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Lloyd Temple has helped combat identity fraud, theft, and criminal organizations for much of his career.

Now at the biggest social media platform in the world, he helps mitigate potential risks on the platform.

Alongside our host Jimmy Fong, Lloyd details:

  • His learnings from federal law enforcement and the private sector
  • How his time at Homeland Security developed his understanding of criminals and fraudsters
  • It the importance for businesses to have good digital hygiene and educate their own employees
  • What TikTok is doing to help raise awareness of fraud & cybersecurity

Can you tell us one fraud case that stands out for you during your time at Homeland Security? 

We had a financial fraud case with the internal revenue service in Seattle. 

It’s always good to take down those who are living high on the ball and the subject that we arrested at the time was living in a penthouse apartment, costing him about $25,000 a month, oh and a Ferrari, Mercedes, and a bunch of other high-end cars.

His scheme scam was pretty devious. 

In short, he purchased large supplies of iPhones on four different credit cards. He received the iPhone and then resold those for-profit.

The core scam was that he called the credit card company and said ‘Hey I received the iPhones, but inside each one of the boxes was a ceramic tile,’ which was approximately the size of the iPhone; claiming that somebody ripped him off.

Unfortunately, the company credit card company reversed the charges. So apple is responsible for large a chunk of money and then he did the same thing again, and again.

He tried to scam another large-scale shipping company will instead of using glass tiles, he shipped phones in pumice stone and he ran this scam for a long time.

The fortunate thing was that investigators could trace his spending to a local hardware store. We used some creative surveillance techniques to scope out some of his activity as well to ultimately pin him down and got sentenced. 

The interesting thing was the actor who was doing these kinds of criminal deeds was a very smart guy, totally able to make a decent salary, I guess making money and not paying taxes on it and fraud on top of fraud is appealing to some it’s unfortunate because a bank got victimized in this too since he had a bunch of bogus credit lines that he obtained. 

What worries you the most about the role of fraud in society now?

I think in general I think one trend I saw towards the end of my career is the poly criminality of a lot of large-scale criminal organizations. They’re not just doing single crimes, they’re running multiple at the same time. 

For instance, I remember investigating or being involved in the investigation of a pretty widespread ATM skimming operation of some folks.

They were all over the country doing it all over the United States, but they weren’t just involved in that, they were implications they’re involved in human smuggling, human trafficking, large-scale asylum fraud, fraudulent applications to procure immigration benefits government benefits, fraud, trying to get welfare fraud as well.

I think these organizations will go after what is perceived as low-hanging fruit and the sentencing guidelines for these crimes, unfortunately, are not quite as robust as other crimes that you see.

Hopefully, with time, they will implement a larger sentence when they’re caught, but they are recidivists by nature and if they’re gonna do it once, they’ll do it twice.

Fraudsters are busy. It takes a concerted, coordinated, and consistent effort to run effective, large-scale schemes and the insidious nature of these kinds of crimes is very serious and something we all need to be wary of. 

How is TikTok looking to raise cybersecurity awareness?

There is a hashtag #becybersmart, and I would recommend anyone to follow that. You’ll see some very good content out there on the videos.

Relative to that, our CSO does video explainers about certain techniques like what phishing is and the other thing that I’ve always found appealing is TikTok’s mantra is that we want to protect the last sunny corner of the internet.

We want to keep it fun. We want to keep it collaborative. So we have lots of resources on our website about how to protect yourself safety measures reminders for parents on how to protect their kids how to link up your accounts and make sure all sorts of educational materials are out there.

And it’s something it’s not a one-time effort. It’s a continual effort. We want to make sure we help people. We have a cyber security awareness week and we recently participated in Valentine’s day to make people aware of romance scams with some really creative content from all sorts of partners and creators.

Being at a global organization with such a huge reach and many creative ideas allows us to break through the barrier of ‘oh internet security is boring’ to try to raise the general public’s knowledge. This is something we are going to be learning for a long time and hopefully make a real impact.

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Author avatar
Liam Machin