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Former rocker pleads guilty to telemarketing real estate scam

Posted at 4:43 PM, Sep 28, 2018

The former bass player for the rock band, The Ataris, pleaded guilty Friday to a federal charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, according to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.

Michael S. Davenport, 50, of Santa Barbara reportedly admitted to owning and operating a telemarketing business that defrauded thousands of would-be renters and home buyers throughout the U.S. from 2009 to 2016.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, Davenport’s business, American Standard, posted online real estate ads for homes that didn’t exist. When people responded to the ads, they would be told they needed to pay $199 for an American Standard list of pre-foreclosure homes with more information. Once consumers paid the fee, they learned the listed homes were not actually for sale.

The scheme reportedly took in more than $25 million and defrauded more than 100,000 victims.

The DA’s Office says three of Davenport’s former employees also pleaded guilty to participating in the conspiracy. Mark A. Phillips, Semjase E. Santana, and Carlynne L. Davis, who all worked in American Standard’s locally-based offices, are awaiting sentencing.

A fourth defendant, Cynthia L. Rawlinson of Santa Barbara, is awaiting trial.

Davenport is scheduled to be sentenced in December and could receive up to 30 years in prison, according to the DA.