Pop-Punk Bassist Faces Up to 30 Years In Prison For Telemarketing Scam
Former bassist for The Ataris, Michael Davenport, faces up to 30 years in prison for federal conspiracy and fraud charges for carrying out a telemarketing scam from 2009-2016, Santa Barbara's Independent reports. Davenport, 49, and fellow Santa Barbara resident Cynthia Rawlinson, 51, both allegedly ran a real estate scam that cheated approximately $27 million from 100,000 people.
The scam was carried out in multiple cities and counties, including 104 victims in Southern Illinois, which is pretty close to where The Ataris grew up in Indiana. It was based out of Santa Barbara, and the case is being investigated by a joint team of St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service, as well as additional evidence from Santa Barbara District Attorney Joyce Dudley and the Santa Maria Office of the FBI.
According to the Indictment, the scam went under many names, including "American Standard." The scam operated through posting ads to Craigslist and listing pre-foreclosure homes at a price far below market value. When customers would reach out about the ads, they were directed to a salesperson, who would tell them they had to pay a $199 fee in order to access the property information. “The salespersons also said … that the customers could purchase the houses by simply taking over the homeowners’ mortgage payments, and the deeds to these homes would then be transferred into the customers’ names,” the indictment reads.
The prosecutors allege that after paying the fee, customers would learn the property either was no longer on American Standard's list or that no property existed. Customers would demand their money back, to which they were told by American Standard they would need to wait 90 days, and and then mail a refund request along with five copies of letters from property owners proving the homes were in fact not correctly listed. Refunds were still not made.
Over $104,000 in cash was seized from Davenport when he was taken into custody last month at the Bill and Hillary Clinton Airport in Little Rock, Ark. $850,000 more in his personal bank accounts is in the process of being seized. Both Davenport and Rawlinson are scheduled to be arraigned on Jan. 17 at the federal courthouse in St. Louis.
The Ataris are a pop-punk band located in Anderson Indiana, formed in 1995. They released five full-length albums throughout their career, gaining minor notoriety in 2003 with their single "In This Diary" which reached No. 11 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Modern Rock tracks.
Read the full story over at Santa Barbara's Independent.