GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Battle Creek woman has been charged for allegedly stealing $3.5 million in a mail scam between January 2021 and September 2022.
The suspect, 67-year-old Lavonne Kemp, was charged Friday with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office – Western District of Michigan.
We’re told Kemp took part in a “mistaken refund” scam, in which victims were sent emails claiming funds had been withdrawn from their bank accounts to reportedly cover installation costs for security software on their computers.
The emails went on to say recipients could dispute the charges by calling a number, through which someone on the other end would reverse the charges, federal attorneys explain. They say the supposed customer service agent would then claim he accidentally placed thousands of dollars into the victim’s account, instructing them to remedy the nonexistent problem by sending cash to Kemp’s Battle Creek residence.
“These allegations are extremely concerning involving an alleged scheme to prey upon unsuspecting victims,” says 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.”
If found guilty, Kemp faces up to 20 years behind bars as well as restitution doubling the gain or loss resulting from the alleged fraud.