Bass player indicted for rental scam

Jan 23, 2018

There are always people who seem to find scamming consumers to be a worthwhile career choice. This time, the miscreant is Michael Davenport, former bass player for pop-punk band, The Ataris. Davenport and his alleged co-conspirator, Cynthia Rawlinson, operated a telemarketing boiler room in Santa Barbara. According to the indictment, they collected more than $27 million dollars from unwary consumers over a seven-year period.

The scam was a common one: they placed ads on Craigslist offering houses for sale or rent at “favorable prices.” Hopeful consumers would pay $199 to be able to view the listings. Once the victim paid the fee, they would discover that many of the addresses did not exist.

Davenport and Rawlinson allegedly collected money from more than 100,000 people in all 50 states until their office was raided by FBI agents in October 2016. The indictment seeks forfeiture of $853,000 that was in a merchant processing account at the time of the raid, along with $104,000 in cash seized later fr0m Davenport at a Little Rock, Arkansas airport, where Davenport was arrested in December. If the two are convicted, they could face up to 30 years in prison.

This rental scam is not significantly different from the others. They all prey on the most vulnerable people who are facing ever-rising rents and prices. The best defense against scams like this one is simple: never pay a fee or subscription to see properties that seem too good to be true, and always verify that an owner’s representative is who they say they are. Scams like this one are always conducted by people hiding behind email addresses and mail drops, so the victims never meet the criminals trying to relieve them of their hard-earned money. Legitimate rental agents will always meet prospective tenants at the property and provide access.

Don’t be taken in by offers that appear to be too good to be true; there is always a catch.

 

Source: TBWS

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