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United States of America v. Lavonne Kemp
Case Number: 1:23-cr-00025
Judge: Robert J. Jonker
Court: United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan (Kent County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in Grand Rapids
Description: Grand Rapids, Michigan criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant charged with conspiracy to commit fraud using the mail
Lavonne Kemp, age 67, of Battle Creek, Michigan participated in a fraud scheme targeting home computer users across the United States, known as a “mistaken refund” scam. People became victims of the scam when they were deceived by an email message falsely claiming that a bank withdrawal had been made from their bank account to allegedly pay for the installation of computer security software. The message invited anyone disagreeing with the charge to call a “customer service” number. Those who called this number spoke with a person who agreed to immediately reverse the “charge.” During this refund process, the “customer service” co-conspirator indicated that he had mistakenly deposited thousands of dollars into the victim’s account because of a keystroke error. The victim was then induced to rectify this “error” by mailing cash to Kemp’s address in Battle Creek. Between January 2021 and September 2022, Kemp allegedly received approximately $3,500,000 traceable to this fraudulent scheme.
Kemp is charged with mail fraud conspiracy, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349. This offense carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of twice the gross gain or loss caused by the fraud, three years of supervised release following prison, and forfeiture of property. No other members of the conspiracy have yet been charged.
“Our agents remain committed to investigating allegations of fraud wherever they may be,” said HSI Detroit Special Agent in Charge Angie M. Salazar. “Working with our local partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we can help keep hard-working Americans safe from schemes and hold those behind them to account for their actions.”
Kemp had her initial court appearance today in Grand Rapids. Further proceedings will be handled by U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney. Prosecution of the case has been assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Timothy VerHey.
The Department of Homeland Security and Battle Creek Police Department are investigating the case.
Outcome: An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.