The scam itself has the makings of a sexy Liam Neeson vengeance-comedy. After young beauties from Estonia, Latvia and the like brought their talents to South Beach, via the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Visa Waiver Program, they were trained in luring wealthy-looking businessmen to fake nightclubs. Per the FBI:
At the private clubs, the defendants would charge the victims exorbitant prices for bottles of alcohol. The B-Girls (or "Bar Girls") would order bottles of wine or champagne and charge them to the victims' credit card, sometimes without the victims' knowledge. The charges were often unsigned, unauthorized, or the victims' signatures would be forged. When the victims disputed the charges, the defendants either threatened to have the victims arrested at the scene or presented the credit card companies with photographs of the defendants and the B-Girls at the private club as proof of the charge.
Standard fare, to a certain extent. And easy enough to elude detection, what with most of the wealthy-looking businessmen probably married to the type of women who'd have fundamental problems with their manpiece dropping mad coin on twentysomething Russian whores. Really good angle. But 'twas not meant to last forever.
The biggest fraud against a single person [of 88 known victims] listed in the affidavit occurred at Caviar Bar... A man identified only as J.B. from Philadelphia was approached by Marina Turcina and Anna Kilimatova at the Delano and allegedly taken for $43,000 on his American Express card. It included a purchase of $2,480 for a painting from Caviar's wall that he said he never authorized.
This is where the fun begins. Because today, J.B. identified himself in the Philadelphia Daily News as John Bolaris, meteorologist of January thundersnow telestrator dong. And Bolaris is still battling with Amex to rectify the situation. But that's neither here nor there. Take a look at a few snippets of Bolaris's recollections:
Unbeknown to Bolaris, federal authorities said, two Latvian women - Marina Turcina and Anna Kilimatova - had been watching him. They sized him up - good-looking middle-aged guy with an expensive watch - and made their move.
"They came up from behind me, and said, 'Are you weather presenter?'
"The bartender said, 'Yeah, he's a weatherman!'" Bolaris said.
"They asked me if I could guess where they were from. I said Poland. They said they were from Estonia."
Marina, 24, and Anna, 25, were dark-haired, blue-eyed and beautiful, and were elegantly dressed. Bolaris said he ordered them wine.
Fast forward a few minutes. "We were sitting by a pool bar, and they asked if I did shots," Bolaris said. "I said no.
"One of them started rubbing me, opened my mouth, and said, 'Do [a] shot.' "
It was days before Bolaris figured out that the women had slipped him a roofie, the infamous date-rape drug.
Are you weather presenter? Rubbing. "Do shot." Roofies. More please.
What happened next is a blur. Bolaris said he remembered sharing a cab with the women, who mentioned something about visiting a friend having a charity fundraiser.
"I remember someone holding me up and making me sign something," he said.
"Then I woke up in a taxi. My shirt was stained with red wine, and I had this huge painting of a woman's head."
That's what they're calling it now, red wine?
Now, cue the makeshift happy ending to mask the fact that he got used up and spit out like the common mail-order bride or human-trafficked masseuse.
The clubs - including the Caviar Bar - were just fronts, and were not open to the public. The men were often drugged or fed a heavy stream of alcohol until they were barely coherent. ...
"Helping to take down those criminals," Bolaris said, "that felt really good. That was my redemption."
Oh, in that photo (H/T Renamity PR), standing to Bolaris's right is Alycia Lane, the former Philadelphia CBS-affiliate co-anchor who got some Page Six attention after sending bikini pics to married Rich Eisen.
Ninety-seven bottles of beer on the wall.
Drugged & duped: Bolaris' perfect storm [Philadelphia Daily News]
Feds bust South Beach club operators in sexy ‘B-Girls' case [Miami Herald]
Eastern European B-girls in SoBe scam [Miami New Times]
One of Us: John Bolaris [Philadelphia Magazine]