Drugged, Scammed by Beautiful Women: Weatherman Tells His Story


Police Officer Goes Undercover as 'Dirty Cop'

When Bolaris attempted to dispute the charges, American Express referred him to a man named Stan Pavlenko, who was later indicted in the case and has pleaded not guilty. Pavlenko had supplied a photograph of Bolaris at the bar to the credit card company in an attempt to legitimate the charges.

Despite evidence that located him at a bar called Caviar, Bolaris vowed to fight the expenses. He eventually connected with the FBI, which had launched a full-scale investigation of the Eastern European criminal activities in the South Beach clubs.

The FBI teamed up Det. Luis King of the Miami Beach police, who served as an undercover "dirty cop" to help gather information about club.

King got close to Alec Simchuk, a suspect who remains at large after fleeing to Eastern Europe. Simchuk owned several clubs in Eastern Europe that allegedly used similar methods to entice high-paying customers.

Instead of relying on violent threats, the South Beach clubs used Florida's "innkeeper law" to force customers to pay. The law requires patrons disputing a charge to challenge the bill with their own credit card company rather than the vendor. Patrons who refuse to sign their bill risk getting arrested.

Simchuk and the b-girls became increasingly trusting of King, who can be found in surveillance videos threatening to arrest several patrons who refused to pay their "exorbitant" bills.

Wired with a microphone and color-video camera, King documented incriminating phone calls with Simchuk, girls pouring out their drinks and talking about their tactics, and male patrons refusing to sign their bills.

He also served as a driver for the girls, frequently dropping them off in pairs at legitimate venues in Miami, where they would target men wearing expensive shoes and watches to lure them back to their own venues.

In addition to King, the FBI had another undercover agent pose as an unsuspecting customer to discover first-hand whether the girls illegally manipulated their patrons.

"It's $3,000 for three $20 bottles of wine. I specifically told you I want one," the undercover officer told one of the b-girls in the video.

In court documents, the FBI said that this customer's signature was forged and he was billed thousands of dollars for unordered alcohol.

Brett Daniels, a professional magician, was another alleged victim who came forward to "20/20," claiming that his club experience cost him $1,367.38.

"I drank a Heineken, and the vodka was on them," Daniels said. "It shouldn't be this much money."

Daniels' bank, Waukesha State Bank, still refuses to refund his charges.

Jonathan Davidoff, a lawyer for one of the b-girls, said that the only laws that the girls violated were immigration laws and that the men were merely expressing "buyers' remorse."

"I think it's a great marketing plan, to be honest with you, to send attractive women to go meet guys and bring them back to a club. I see nothing illegal about that," argued Davidoff. "It happens all the time."

He claimed that many of the girls pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud because of immigration concerns, and several are now seeking asylum in the United States.

Nevertheless, after spending 13 months and more than an estimated $1 million investigating the case, the FBI staged a birthday party at one of the clubs to arrest the bar girls and their managers.

Although Simchuk and several of b-girls already had returned to their native countries, King invited all the remaining suspects to attend his pretend "birthday party" in April at Club Tangia. The b-girls dressed up for the occasion and even posed with King, who wore a birthday crown in a photograph.

The FBI raided the club fully armed, arresting 16 suspects that night, including almost a dozen b-girls and a handful of male managers and accountants.

The case against Pavlenko and others who have pleaded not guilty will head to federal court in October. Bolaris and the b-girls are expected to testify.

Bolaris lost his job as a weatherman in Philadelphia after the b-girls scandal made headlines. But there was a silver lining: He won a court battle against American Express -- the credit card company repaid him the $43,000 it originally charged and also forked over thousands more in damages -- and is glad, though nervous, about testifying against the crime ring that allegedly scammed him.

"I could've rolled over and taken it, but I did not," he said. "I fought back."

Watch the full updated story on "20/20: Cat and Mouse" FRIDAY at 10 ET

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