A former Philly weatherman is recalling how a pair of Russian beauties allegedly drugged him and then swindled him out of more than $40,000 during two nights of partying in Miami.
Bolaris, 54, says he was having a drink alone at a hotel bar last March when two women approached him.
“They came across very cutesy, and very sincere, and very nice, like the girls next door,” he told “20/20.” “This wasn’t a hooker-type thing.”
But when the women asked Bolaris if he wanted to take a shot, they wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“One comes behind me, she rubs my shoulders, pulls back my head and says, ‘Come on, do a shot.’ And I said, ‘All right, I’ll do a shot,'” Bolaris explains in the interview, scheduled to air Friday night.
The FBI says Bolaris is one of 88 men who have been targeted in a Russian crime ring operating out of South Beach. So-called “b-girls” seek out wealthy tourists, selecting their victims by their expensive shoes or watches, and then lure them to one of their own clubs.
Bolaris said this is exactly what happened to him. After a few drinks, he and the women took a taxi to another bar, and stopped on the way to see a painting one of their friends was selling for charity. That’s about all he remembers.
“I remember standing up … signing something, vaguely,” Bolaris told “20/20.” “Next thing I know, I’m in a cab with a big painting [of a woman’s head].”
The next day, he woke up alone in his hotel suite.
“I had red wine on my shirt, fully clothed,” Bolaris said. “Now I’m thinking: Something happened, but what?”
The b-girls called to tell Bolaris they had his sunglasses and wanted to return them.
“How bad can they be?” he recalls thinking.
Bolaris met the girls that evening, and the trio took a cab to return the painting. But on the way, he says they got out near an unmarked storefront and whistled for him to join.
“And next thing I know, I’m passed out,” he said.
Bolaris woke the following morning “very sick” and “extremely worried,” according to “20/20.” He never heard from the women again, but he did get a call from American Express, alerting him of charges of $43,712.25 on his account.
Unable to dispute the charges, Bolaris eventually teamed up with the FBI, which already had an undercover cop investigating criminal activity in South Beach clubs.
The “dirty cop” discovered women luring drunk men to their own shady nightspots where unsuspecting patrons were being charged exorbitant amounts of money for drinks.
The b-girls would play along, ordering drinks on their new friend’s tab, but often dumping them out when he wasn’t looking or taking shots of water instead of liquor. “Customers” were billed thousands for liquor they never ordered, and the FBI says their undercover agent’s signature was forged when he didn’t sign a bill.
After more than a year of investigation, the FBI arrested 16 suspects, including almost a dozen b-girls.
Several of the women had already fled to Eastern Europe. Also on the run is Alec Simchuk, a suspect who owned clubs in Eastern Europe that allegedly used similar criminal methods to swindle patrons.
Jonathan Davidoff, a lawyer for one of the b-girls, says nothing the women did was illegal, and the men were simply experiencing “buyer’s remorse.”
“I think it’s a great marketing plan, to be honest with you, to send attractive women to meet guys and bring them back to a club,” Davidoff told “20/20.” “I see nothing illegal about that. It happens all the time.”
Bolaris eventually won a court battle against American Express and was reimbursed the $43,000 plus thousands more for damages.
Bolaris and the b-girls are expected to testify when the case heads to federal court in October.
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