What’s more punk-rock than real-estate fraud?
Oh, practically anything? Okay, then.
Don’t tell that to Michael Davenport, former bassist for punk band The Ataris. Davenport, 49, has been indicted on federal conspiracy and fraud charges for allegedly running a massive real estate scam that bilked more than 100,000 victims out of $27 million.
Davenport and his alleged co-conspirator, Cynthia Rawlinson, have both been charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, five counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud, according to a report by the Santa Barbara Independent. If convicted, each could face more than 30 years in prison.
Authorities said that Davenport and Rawlinson operated a telemarketing business under several names – most commonly American Standard. The company used Craigslist to place ads claiming to be partial lists of “pre-foreclosure” houses on sale for market-beating prices. When prospective customers called American Standard, they were told they would have to pay $199 to access the complete list, the Independent reported. According to the indictment, callers were also told they could purchase the houses simply by taking over the mortgage payments, and that the deeds would be transferred to them.
There was one glaring problem: The houses on those lists either weren’t for sale or didn’t exist at all. When customers demanded their money back, they were told they had to wait 90 days, then mail the company a refund request along with five copies of letters from property owners to prove that the homes were incorrectly listed, the Independent reported. Even customers who managed to jump through those hoops didn’t get their money back, authorities said.
The Ataris are best known for their 2003 cover of Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer”, which reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song specifically condemns the selling out of youthful idealism for middle-aged materialism.
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