Men Cry Foul Play over Excessive Charges at Strip Clubs

Reports of fraudulent activities at strip clubs in South Florida have resurfaced, shedding light on a recurring issue. Last year, a visitor to Miami found himself embroiled in a controversy after visiting Playmates strip club in Coral Gables. The man, in town for a sailing regatta, decided to relax at the adult entertainment establishment before his event the following day.

According to his account, he settled at the bar inside the club and engaged in conversation with a scantily dressed exotic dancer while enjoying a cocktail. Intrigued by her offer, he agreed to accompany her to a VIP room where she promised a dance and an extended party that included cocaine. However, the events that unfolded from that point on remain a haze in his memory.

In a lawsuit against Triple Vision Inc., also known as Playmates Strip Club, the man, identified as David Chapin, alleges that the club’s employees surreptitiously drugged his drink with an unknown substance. Consequently, he claims to have been incapacitated while his credit cards were charged an exorbitant $40,000 for various services, including dances, entertainment fees, tips, cocktails, and other expenses. Upon regaining consciousness the next morning inside the club, Chapin discovered his belongings strewn across the room, with no recollection of events beyond his initial arrival at the establishment.

Attorney Gary Ostrow, who represents Chapin, asserts that such allegations are not isolated incidents and that this pattern of behavior extends beyond a single club. Ostrow believes that numerous similar cases have gone unaddressed due to the victims’ feelings of humiliation or fear of public exposure, particularly those who are married.

Richard Stanton, the former owner of Playmates and also an attorney, vehemently denies the accusations. Stanton claims that Chapin personally authorized the charges during phone conversations with his credit card companies, as documented in a club manager’s notes. Stanton adds that he met Chapin personally to discuss the bill, during which Chapin did not mention being drugged. Instead, Chapin expressed concerns about the charges appearing on his corporate credit card and negotiated a partial payment to the club in exchange for reversing those charges.

Responding to a demand letter from Ostrow, Stanton dismissed the allegations as ludicrous, acknowledging some hyperbole in his response. He also highlighted the club’s anti-drug policy, which is prominently displayed on posters throughout the establishment. Stanton asserts that the club thrives without condoning illegal and destructive activities such as drug use.

Playmates strip club was recently acquired by RCI Hospitality, also known as Rick’s Cabaret, a publicly traded company with a substantial portfolio of adult entertainment venues.

Ostrow has been involved in multiple cases against strip clubs, with his earliest known involvement dating back to 2017 when he took on a client suing Vixen’s Gentlemen’s Club in Davie. The client alleged that after a night at the club, he woke up to discover he had been charged $17,000 for drinks, entertainment, and other services. According to the man, the cocktails he consumed that night were tampered with to make him more generous with his spending. The case was resolved through mediation in October 2018.

In 2020, Ostrow represented another man in a lawsuit against Scores Palm Beach. The plaintiff claimed that while he was heavily intoxicated, dancers at the club purchased expensive bottles of champagne and charged $46,000 and $24,000 on two of his credit lines. He also alleged that he had been drugged and woke up the next morning at the club, disoriented and surrounded by topless women, with his belongings scattered around him. Scores Palm Beach countered the claims, stating in a motion to dismiss that the plaintiff was attempting to extort money by making salacious allegations of being drugged after experiencing buyers’ remorse. Ostrow is no longer representing the plaintiff in the Scores case, and two additional men have since joined the lawsuit with similar claims against the club.

In the recent lawsuit against Playmates, filed in Miami-Dade County court, similar allegations are made, following the pattern observed in Ostrow’s previous cases. The lawsuit alleges that the club and its employees identify affluent or tourist customers, drug them, and then charge excessive amounts on their credit cards. In each of Ostrow’s cases, the credit card companies refused to reverse or refund the charges, arguing that the men were present at the establishments where the expenses were incurred.

These reported scams bear resemblance to the infamous incident involving dancers from a New York strip club, also named Scores, who faced criminal charges for drugging and defrauding wealthy clients. The story served as inspiration for the movie “Hustlers,” starring Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B.

Playmates’ former owner, Stanton, asserts that the club had never been sued for such allegations prior to Ostrow’s involvement. He suggests that some of the claims from Ostrow’s previous lawsuits are being recycled and employed in the case against Playmates. Stanton affirms that the club intends to vigorously contest the allegations until the end.

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