Former Georgia Satellites Singer Dan Baird Loses Over $13,500 in Swiss Border Patrol Scam
Singer and songwriter Dan Baird, best known for his stint fronting '80s roots rockers Georgia Satellites, recently fell victim to an expensive scam while traveling through Europe with his band Homemade Sin.
Classic Rock Magazine has the incredible story, which resulted in the group losing a substantial sum of money to unscrupulous border patrol agents -- and finding themselves unable to get the money back due to an obscure Swiss legal technicality. (In order to try an recoup, Dan Baird and Homemade Sin are releasing a new live DVD, 'Viva Nashvegas,' which you can pre-order here.)
It all started, recalls tour manager Mick Brown, after what seemed like an ordinary late-night border crossing. But no more than "a few hundred yards" after entering Swiss territory, "We pulled up at our hotel, and all hell broke loose -- vehicles screeched around us, spotlights blinded us and the Swiss Border Patrol were pointing guns at us."
Told they'd broken the law by bringing a commercial vehicle across an unmanned border, the band and its crew were "Taken back to the border and subjected to a four-hour search. But all our so-called contraband was on open display. They took out all our gear and merch then had their photos taken with it, a bit like American police used to do with dead gangsters during the Depression," noted Brown. "Then they hit us with the bombshell. Our vehicle and its entire contents were impounded and we had twelve hours to raise £9000 [nearly $13,700 at current exchange rates] or everything would be auctioned. They showed us an eBay ad already featuring our vehicle."
Forced to choose between paying the fine and cancelling their tour, the band paid up, only to hear later on that they'd fallen prey to a scam often perpetrated on touring bands -- and to make matters even worse, they couldn't appeal the fine because they hadn't followed proper procedure, even though, as Brown put it, "We never received any documentation in English and we never had the procedure explained to us."
The final insult? The whole thing was against the law to begin with. "Our van didn’t fit into the category of a commercial vehicle in the first place," Brown pointed out. "So the whole stop, search and everything that followed was illegal. The Swiss authorities smiled politely and reiterated that if only we’d followed procedure they might have been able to help. But there was nothing they could do."
Turning his focus to the group's hopes for the 'Viva Nashvegas' release, Brown said, "We would ask that anyone who loves rock’n'roll thinks about either buying the DVD or making a donation. This time around it was us who got caught out -- but it could easily have been your favorite band."