Crime

Former ‘The Ataris’ bassist defrauded hundreds of households in Southern Illinois

Wire fraud statistics

Smaller businesses are hit particularly hard when it comes to wire fraud.
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Smaller businesses are hit particularly hard when it comes to wire fraud.

A former rock star was sentenced to 84 months in federal prison for defrauding more than 130,000 people, more than 100 of whom live in Southern Illinois.

Michael S. Davenport, 50, of Santa Barbara, California, pleaded guilty to a one-count federal indictment for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. He is the former bass player of mid-2000s rock band, The Ataris, known for their cover of Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer.”

According to the Alton Telegraph, Davenport’s scheme stretched from 2009 to at least October 2016. During that time he defrauded more than $25 million people all over the country and in St. Clair and Madison counties.

In total, 534 defrauded households were located in Southern Illinois, the Telegraph reported.

Davenport’s scheme involved posting ads on Craigslist listing homes for sale or rent at “favorable prices.” Those homes didn’t exist, he would later admit as part of his guilty plea. He would tell those he defrauded that by taking over the mortgage payments of the former homeowners, the deed of the home would be transferred to their name.

Davenport would have those interested pay a $199 fee that American Standard, the business he operated that changed names several times, charged to cover the costs of the transfer, that was, in fact, fictional.

The case is part of an ongoing investigation by the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service.

Kavahn Mansouri covers government accountability for the Belleville News-Democrat, holding officials and institutions accountable and tracking how taxpayer money is spent.
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