Punk rock bassist Mike Davenport, a former member of the Santa Barbara-based band The Ataris, is being investigated for allegedly running multiple online real estate scams that have generated hundreds of customer complaints.
Last Wednesday, FBI agents accompanied by local law enforcement raided a Lompoc call center and three Santa Barbara locations reportedly associated with the Montecito-based website American Standard Online. Davenport, 48, was observed outside the company’s 401 North Milpas Street location, where he assured reporters he was not under arrest.
Law enforcement officials would not comment on the raids, other than to confirm search warrants had been served and no charges had yet been filed.
Better Business Bureau (BBB) forums and consumer watchdog websites are awash with complaints about American Standard Online, which opened in 2006 and has operated under more than two dozen related and unrelated LLC (limited liability company) names, including Your American Standard, American Housing Standard, Evolution Lending, and so on. It has listed addresses and P.O. boxes in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Montecito, and Ventura and is closely affiliated with Anchor House Financial, where Davenport and his business partner Susan Quinn are also principals.
American Standard, according to the BBB, offers access to its website for $199, where customers can ostensibly find lists of foreclosed or pre-foreclosed homes that can be purchased by taking over their mortgage payments, through a lease-to-own agreements, and so on.
Customers, however, allege the information provided by American Standard is either out-of-date or wholly incorrect. When they ask for their money back, the complaints read, the company states customers have to wait 90 days and then mail in a refund request along with five copies of letters sent to property owners to prove the properties were not correctly listed. Even then, refunds are often not provided.
Davenport and other company representatives did not return requests for comment. Call center employees were sent home Wednesday after the FBI raid. It is not clear if the location has reopened.
American Standard generated 235 customer complaints in three years; Anchor House Financial had 141 complaints in that same time. Both have received “F” ratings from the Better Business Bureau, which advises would-be customers to research any home buying promotions thoroughly by asking for references, insisting on a written contract, and contacting an attorney with questions or concerns.
Davenport left The Ataris in 2005 but rejoined them for a reunion tour in 2013. Their fourth studio album, So Long, Astoria, released in March 2003, peaked at No. 24 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold. He now plays in the band Versus the World.