Skip to main content
Press Release

Battle Creek Woman Charged In $3,500,000 Computer Scam

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan

Lavonne Kemp alleged to be cash clearinghouse for nationwide “mistaken refund” fraud


          GRAND RAPIDS – U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten today announced that Lavonne Kemp, 67, of Battle Creek was charged in federal court for participating in a conspiracy to commit fraud using the mail.

          “These allegations are extremely concerning involving an alleged scheme to prey upon unsuspecting victims,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten. “I implore the public to remain vigilant, wary, cautious, and to always verify suspicious claims or claims that seem ‘too good to be true’ to help protect yourself from falling victim to potential scams or fraud.”

          According to court documents, Kemp 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.

          An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Updated March 6, 2023

Financial Fraud