From hundreds of thousands of fans to 100,000 victims. The Santa Barbara Independent reports a pop-punk bassist is facing fraud charges and more than 30 years in prison over an alleged real estate scam. Prosecutors say Michael Davenport of The Ataris defrauded approximately 100,000 people in all 50 states and Washington DC out of $27 million through a company he founded called American Standard, according to NPR. The alleged scam worked like this: American Standard would advertise homes for sale for below-market value, usually on Craigslist; interested customers were made to pay $199 for a "listing of houses"; victims would later find out the homes on the list were either not for sale or didn't exist.
American Standard told customers they "could purchase the houses by simply taking over the homeowners' mortgage payments" and hired employees who "spent most of their time fielding phone calls from angry customers and homeowners," according to an indictment. Prosecutors say American Standard created impossible hoops to jump through if any customer demanded a refund. Davenport was arrested in December at the Bill and Hillary Clinton Airport in Arkansas with $104,000 in cash. He and American Standard salesperson Cynthia Rawlinson appeared in court Wednesday. They've been charged with wire fraud, mail fraud, and more. Davenport played with The Ataris from 1995 to 2004 and appeared with the band during a reunion tour in 2013, Rolling Stone reports. The band's 1999 album was named one of the 50 best pop-punk albums of all time by the magazine. (Read more fraud stories.)