At some point, anyone who's ever gone clubbing on Washington Avenue has felt like the whole thing was an elaborate ripoff. But this? This is insane.
The FBI today has busted an Eastern European ring that set up a half dozen fake clubs in South Beach that existed solely to steal thousands of dollars from wealthy tourists lured there by a team of beautiful "B-Girl" scam artists. Really!
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.; a room inside of Nowhere Bar at 653 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.
J.B., a tourist from Philadelphia, had a typical experience, according to the federal complaint.
He was approached on March 28 at the Delano by two of the defendants, Marina Turcina and Anna Kilimatova. The women drank wine with him and later bought him a shot, which left him woozy. He awoke the next day with hazy memories, cash missing and a mysterious painting on his bed.
Turcina called him later that morning, saying she'd accidentally taken his sunglasses. He met her that night at a club called Caviar Beach at 643 Washington -- one of six "fake" clubs identified by the feds.
Again, J.B. found himself woozy after a few drinks. When he got home to Philly, he found that more than $43,000 had been charged to his credit card, mostly in $4,000 increments for single bottles of alcohol.
The scheme fell apart when the feds managed to get a local police officer hired as a bouncer for the gang. Posing as a corrupt cop, the B-Girls opened up to him about the scheme.
Sixteen of the 17 defendants were arrested in raids around Miami Beach last night. One ringleader, 44-year-old Alex Simchuk of Hallandale, remains at large and may be out of the country.
The others arrested were:
Albert Takhalov, 29, of Aventura; Svetlana Coghlan, 41, of Hollywood; Isaac Feldman, 50, of Sunny Isles Beach; Stanislav Pavlenko, 39, of Sunny Isles Beach; Fady Kaldas, 35, of Palm Beach Gardens; Siavash Zargari, 46, of Miami Beach; Marina Turcina, 24, of Latvia; Julija Vinogradova, 22, of Latvia; Anna Kilimatova, 25, of Latvia; Valeria Matsova, 22, of Estonia; Victorija Artemjeva, 21, of Latvia; Anastassia Usakova, 25, of Estonia; Kristina Takhalov, 29, of Miami Beach; Irina Domkova, 22, of Estonia; Anastassia Mikrukova, 32, of Estonia; and Agnese Rudaka, 22, of Latvia.
Read the full, incredible criminal complaint here: