This month two California residents are charged with defrauding numerous people from thousands of dollars. Donald S. Boyce, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, stated that the grand jury had proof that these two individuals had participated in a nationwide telemarketing real estate scam.
Michael S. Davenport, 49, and Cynthia L. Rawlinson, 51, both from Santa Barbara have been charged with mail and wire fraud. Their business had been changed several times but was mostly known by these names: MDSQ Productions, LLC, Housing Standard, LLC, Anchor House Financial, American Standard, American Standard Online, and Your American Standard. The company will now be referenced as "American Standard" hereafter.
According to the statement, Davenport and Rawlinson had placed several ads on Craigslist about homes that were for sale or for rent. When inquiries poured in, the American Standard salesperson told them that in order to receive more information about the homes they would have to purchase an "American Standard's list."
To access the list, the customers would need to pay a $199 fee. The salesperson claimed that the $199 fee would cover the deed transfers and the title searches.
The salesperson also said that the homes on this list were in "pre-foreclosure," which means the customer could “easily” purchase the house just by taking over the mortgage payments. Once they take over the payments, the deed would be transferred to the customer's name.
In the indictment, it further explains that once the customer pays the $199 fee, they quickly learned the house they were interested in was not available for purchase. Most of the homes on the list were actually fake or the house never existed in that location.
"In numerous other cases, the customers learned that the houses were not in pre-foreclosure or financial distress, and were not available to be purchased at below market prices," said EdHat, a Santa Barbara news website. "If the customers asked for more information about the houses they had seen on Craigslist, American Standard’s Customer Service Department informed them that the houses were no longer available."
Allegedly, the collusion and scheme began way back in January 2009 and ended in October 2016. American Standard has taken advantage of over 100,000 people, and Davenport and Rawlinson cheated people out of $27 million.
These hundreds of thousands of people are located across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Just in the Southern District of Illinois alone, at least 104 people fell victim to this scam.
The two individuals are charged with 30 years of jail time, and also can be charged with $250,000 per count, and may also be charged to pay restitution to each victim. At this time, the case is still ongoing and being investigated by the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service.
What do you think about this scam? Have you ever been a victim of a scam?
In other news, this 14-year-old boy wrote a fantastic poem. But when read backward, your mouth will hit the floor. Check it out here.