EXCLUSIVE: Chicago Rapper Bandman Kevo Talks Bank Fraud Charges, FBI Investigation & Online Criticism
Yohance Kyles (@HUEYmixwitRILEY)
Bandman Kevo went from a Chicago rapper on the rise to a defendant in a federal case. Kevo (born Kevin Ford) and twenty-eight other suspects were accused of being involved in a scam that spread across two Midwest states. The 26-year-old creator of buzzing tracks like “Wonna Be” featuring King Louie and “Baller In Me (Remix)” featuring Chief Keef was charged for bank fraud conspiracy in a U.S. District Court in Indiana last month.
According to prosecutors Kevo took part in a “credit card cracking” scheme that cheated banks out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Authorities also claim Kevo had ties to the rap group known as the Rack Boyz that supposedly promoted the illegal acts in a song titled “For the Money.” Kevo is accused of promoting the bank scamming plan in his own social media posts as well.
With his next court appearance scheduled for the end of November, Kevo is already declaring his innocence. Not only is he denying he was involved in the grand arrangement, but he feels the case against him is a pointless fishing expedition on the part of the federal government.
AllHipHop.com spoke with Bandman Kevo by phone to discuss the charges against him, explore his belief the Federal Bureau of Investigation has followed him for years, and to give a response to those critics that have had a lot to say about him online.
At this point what are your thoughts on this situation?
A lot of people think the case is new, but they don’t understand that the case is three years old. It was basically a state case that they just recently made federal, because somebody mentioned my name. The case is not as big as what everybody thinks it is. It ain’t really too much of nothing. It’s a lot of stuff they just made up to try and have a case on me.
The only reason I think they even dropped it is because the case was almost beat in state, and they must have got scared and just dropped it. They still don’t have no hard evidence. They’re just saying, “witnesses said…” Basically, somebody got in a jam, and I got the most money to them so they must have mentioned my name. Who knows? But it ain’t like they got me doing this or got me doing that.
Before the charges were filed, were you aware you were under investigation?
Yeah, I knew. I knew from the state case that the FBI was following me from court. I told my lawyer that the FBI’s been following me. They see the career taking off, so they’re trying to slow it down. But they didn't really do nothing but pick it up.
Do you think you have a good chance of beating the charge?
Yeah, I do. Everything that they have in the paperwork is mixed up. It ain’t even right. They’re just saying and doing anything to file a case.
Are you connected to the other people that were charged?
Nah, I don’t know a lot of them people at all. They were just saying that it was twenty-nine people that got arrested for the same thing. They didn’t say that we were in connection.
They tried to say that I was in a group called the Rack Boyz. It was all messed up. It was the Rack Boyz that involved two girls and other types of other dumb things. If you’re the FBI, you should be focusing on way better things than this. This is super weak.
What about the accusations that there was coded language in your music and videos?
The video that they’re talking about is a video that’s not even my video. So they’re saying anything to make their case sound good in court. They’re saying I was in a video [that was shot] in a club. The club planned the video shoot. I wasn’t in the video talking about doing illegal things.
Let’s say if you’re with some people, they have a camera person, and they do a song while that video [shoot] is going on. That’s basically what it was. They’re just saying what they think they see. None of my videos have anything to do with anything illegal. Especially no cards or nothing like that.
So you feel like because you were the biggest name they just threw you in there to prop up the case?
Trust me, I know for a fact. Plus, they don’t like me. When they were following me, I knew. Then I pulled over and waved at them. I called my lawyer and said, “These FBI people are following me.” They were watching the state case, hoping we got charged in that case. They seen it was finna get beat, so they dismissed it. Then waited a few years and brought it back up in federal. It’s still not put together to me.
Has this situation made you change anything about your life or how you move?
No. I don’t care about this situation like that. People are just now finding out. I been knew about it. I been knew they were watching. I know they’re probably still watching, but I’m not doing nothing, so it don’t matter if they’re watching. If that was the case, I wouldn’t even be talking to you right now if it was that bad.
What’s next for you?
Right now, the FBI was kind of jealous so they told the judge they don’t want me to be on social media. We’re going back to court to get my lawyer to fight it. They don’t want me on social media. They don’t want my manager or a third party [to represent me on social media]. They’re trying to slow everything down.
Is there anything else you wanted to add?
If you go on my Instagram, you’ll see I uploaded a lot of stuff like me with Lamborghinis and Ferraris, but people don’t want to see you doing good. But when they think you’re doing bad or about to do bad, that’s when all the negativity comes out. That’s when all the haters come out. They don't even know what’s going on. They just say anything.
Most people say, “He’s gone. He’s this, he’s that.” They don’t even really know their laws. For one, this is a white-collar crime. I’m not selling no drugs. I don’t have no guns. Plus, I don’t got no felonies. I ain’t ever been locked up. People will say anything, because they don’t know.
Some dude on YouTube put out a video trying to say I was flipping money and trying to turn $200 to $2000. This dude is completely wrong. Some dude named DJ Akademiks. I don’t know who he is.
If you listen to the video on YouTube, he's just saying what he thinks happened, what he thinks is going to happen, and what he thinks I was doing. They were trying to say that I was putting posts up to reel people in to make money. It’s all wrong.
They’re just going off the person who got caught. The person who got caught told on all twenty-nine people, including myself. They just got a story from him. He told, and he became “the witness.” That’s the only reason why [there 's a case]. It’s really no big deal.