Former Ataris bassist charged with running $27 million real estate scam

Michael Davenport has been indicted on conspiracy and fraud charges in the US by federal investigators

Michael Davenport, the former bassist of The Ataris, has been charged with federal fraud and conspiracy charges for running a nationwide telemarketing real estate scam which brought in $27 million over a seven-year period.

Davenport – who currently plays in Versus The World – served as a bassist in the Indiana band from 1998 to 2005, before returning to perform with The Ataris in the live arena for their reunion shows between 2013-14.

As reported by the Santa Barbara IndependentDavenport was indicted last month along with Cynthia Rawlinson. If convicted, they both 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.

According to the indictment, Davenport started a Santa Barbara-based telemarketing company called American Standard (one of over a dozen names used) in 2009.

The company allegedly placed adverts displaying “pre-foreclosure” homes at below-market costs. The details of the properties could be viewed for a $199 fee, with the adverts also claiming that, according to the indictment, “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 Ataris

The Ataris in 2003

It’s claimed that once victims of the scam became aware that the properties were not for sale – or, in some cases, didn’t even exist at the address listed – their requests for a refund were met by a 90-day waiting order from American Standard.

The indictment goes on to allege that that period of time had passed, victims then had to mail a refund request along with copies of letters from the owners of the property proving that it had been incorrectly listed. Most refunds were never issued as a result of the alleged scam.

Davenport and Rawlinson allegedly ran the scheme for seven years before their offices were raided by FBI officers in October 2016. Last month, the bassist was arrested at the Bill and Hillary Clinton Airport in Arkansas while in possession of $104,000 in cash, according to authorities. Another $850,000 has reportedly been seized from Davenport’s bank accounts.

Both Davenport and Rawlinson will appear in court to be arraigned on January 17.