Former Ataris Bassist Indicted for Allegedly Making $27 Million From Telemarketing Scam
Federal prosecutors indicted former Ataris bassist Michael Davenport last month on federal fraud and conspiracy charges related to a telemarketing plot that allegedly scammed a whopping $27 million from some 100,000 people over a seven year period, the Santa Barbara Independent first reported Tuesday. If convicted, Davenport and fellow California resident Cynthia Rawlinson face more than 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, five counts of wire fraud, and one count of mail fraud.
Davenport, currently a member of the band Versus the World, played with the Ataris between 1998 and 2005. According to the indictment, four years after his departure from the pop-punk band, the bassist started a Santa Barbara-based telemarketing company that went by (among two dozen other names) American Standard. The company allegedly placed Craigslist ads showing “pre-foreclosure” homes at below market costs, whose details victims could view for a $199 fee. The ads also said “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,” according to the indictment.
Once victims paid the fee, they learned the properties were not for sale or didn’t exist at the address listed at all. When they requested a refund from American Standard, they were told to wait 90 days and then mail a refund request along with five copies of letters from from the properties’ owners proving that they were incorrectly listed (a difficult request if the advertised address was listed incorrectly). Still, most never got refunds. Davenport and Rawlinson allegedly ran the scheme for seven years between 2009 and October of 2016, when their offices were raided by FBI officers. The bassist was arrested in Little Rock, Arkansas, last month at the at the Bill and Hillary Clinton Airport in possession of $104,000 in cash, according to authorities, with another $850,000 being seized from his personal bank accounts. Both are due to be arraigned January 17.
The Ataris are best known for their cover of Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” off the 2003 album So Long, Astoria. Apparently Davenport took the words “don’t look back, you can never look back” to heart.