Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The way we were

News item from today's Miami Herald:
Feds bust South Beach club operators in sexy ‘B-Girls’ case

Sexy Eastern European women dubbed “B-Girls” seduced touristy businessmen at a half-dozen South Beach nightclubs, generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges on their credit cards for expensive bottles of champagne and other booze without their knowledge, federal authorities said Wednesday.

Early Wednesday, FBI agents arrested 17 men, mostly from South Florida and Eastern European countries, who hired the “Bar Girls” to lure as many as 88 visiting businessmen into the Washington Avenue clubs to rack up the charges on their credit cards — sometimes by forging signatures on receipts, according to an FBI criminal affidavit.

One victim was charged $43,000 on his credit card, the affidavit said. One bottle of champagne cost $5,000.
Tim Elfrink, of Miami New Times adds some detail to the story:
Federal prosecutors charged seventeen people today in the scam, which hinged on lovely Eastern European "Bar Girls" -- or "B-Girls" -- luring out-of-town businessmen and tourists from legit clubs to the gang's "private establishments."

Here's how the incredible scheme worked, the feds say.

The gang set up at least six fake clubs: Caviar Beach and Stars Lounge, both at 643 Washington Ave.; a room inside Club Moreno at 1341 Washington Ave.; Nowhere Bar at 643 Washington Ave.; Steel Toast at 758 Washington Ave.; and the Tangia Club at 841 Washington Ave.

They also shipped in numerous B-Girls from Eastern Europe and rented them apartments around South Beach. The gang's bouncers, meanwhile, prevented anyone from entering the clubs except for marks accompanied by B-Girls.

Once inside, bartenders working for the gang would rack up tens of thousands of dollars on the men's credit cards and sometimes forge their signatures.
B-girls have been a part of Miami Beach night life for decades. However, their scams weren't quite as elaborate.

In this Miami News item from 1959, a bottle of champagne for a Miami Beach B-girl was just $37.50.

And from the Miami News, Sept. 20, 1962:

"They'll never stop strippers [b-girls] or strip clubs - they're part of American tradition," said a Miami Beach strip club owner.

More B-girl news from the Miami News archives here.

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