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Thailand vs. South Beach scams?

Posted by RealDaffyDuck on April 15, 2011

Came across this interesting article in USA Today about a scam that was uncovered by local law enforcement in South Beach, Florida.

‘B-girls’ lure unsuspecting visitors in South Beach

Doesn’t sound much different than what’s going on in some scam bars in Thailand, doesn’t it?

By Kitty Bean Yancey, USA TODAY

Have you been to the Caviar Bar, Tangia or Steel Toast lounge in Miami Beach? If so, hope you remember the evening.

Seventeen men and women have been charged in Florida in what prosecutors say was a scam targeting tourists looking for after-dark fun that played out in these and other private clubs, according to an Associated Press report.

The con: “B-Girls” (slang for women at bars whose job is to encourage customers to spend a lot of money) enticed victims to South Beach private clubs where they were charged sky-high prices for Champagne and other drinks. The story said that women — most from Russia and neighboring Eastern European countries — would chat up tourists and businessmen in legitimate nightspots, looking for those who seemed to have money to spend. Then the women invited their victims to the “private clubs,” where drinks flowed and credit cards took big hits. Women would pour drinks into buckets or planters to get the men to buy more,The Miami Herald says.

“Some victims are so intoxicated by the drinks forced upon them by the B-Girls that they cannot stand and are not competent enough to sign credit card receipts,” FBI agent Alexander V. Tiguy said in an affidavit quoted in the story. “Those victims are propped up by the B-Girls long enough to obtain signatures.”

I tried to call three clubs listed on the main South Beach drag of Washington Avenue. One had no phone number I could find, one had a disconnected number and one had only an answering machine with no business name on it.

Prosecutors say at least 88 victims have been identified with total losses in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. One victim was gouged $43,000, the AP reports.

Some of the accused are being held without bail and one top operative is believed to have fled the country, the story said. U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer told the AP that such scams could give “our tourism industry a black eye. We are pleased to have put this ring out of operation.”

(My colleague Cathy Grossman, a former Floridian, says that B-girls have always been a part of the South Florida scene. She reminds me that the former Poodle Lounge at the Fontainebleau resort, where the Rat Pack partied, was a big hangout for ladies waiting to meet rich gents and conventioneers and that any female sitting solo at the bar was suspect. However, I’m pretty sure $43,000 tabs weren’t rung up there.)

Readers, has anyone heard of this scam or of anything similar in another pleasure capital, Las Vegas? I have heard of tourists there being taken for a financial rubdown at illicit massage parlors.

(Link: )


4 Responses to “Thailand vs. South Beach scams?”

  1. MongerSEA said

    News like this always inspires nostalgia for the Soviet Union. They kept the Russians in.

  2. Batanha said

    If they had kept the gouging reasonable they’d probably still be operating. $43k is going to bring investigative attention every time.

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