The strip club business has made a long tradition of preying upon the horniness and poor judgement of drunk men and business tourists, charging sometimes enormous sums for lap dances and such which patrons gladly pay for at the time but then quickly regret the next morning. The old trick of trying to dispute charges with credit card companies is obviously one the clubs and the credit card companies know well, and it's surprising that any red-light district aficionados out there would even try that one. But NBC Bay Area reports on a criminal probe underway by the SFPD stemming from a 2015 affidavit in which six men alleged that they had been ripped off on separate occasions by four different SF strip clubs, three of them in North Beach. Those clubs — Little Darlings, Garden of Eden, Roaring 20’s, and the New Century Theater (which is in the Tenderloin) — are all coincidentally operated by the same Seattle-based company, Déjà Vu Consulting, Inc., though they are under separate ownerships.

According to the affidavit, which was written in support of a search warrant for the clubs' financial records, two of the six men claimed to have been roofied after being served their first beers inside two different clubs, only to pass out and then find outrageous charges on their credit cards. In one case at New Century Theater, a man says he arrived sober, ordered a beer, and soon passed out and had to be hospitalized, later finding an $11,400 charge on his car. Tests showed that he had cocaine, methamphetamine, and a common cough syrup ingredient in his system — though wouldn't the former two ingredients have kept him awake? He claims he does not do drugs and never would have approved that charge, but you can already see why this case is problematic even if he's telling the truth.

In another case, a guy who went to the Garden of Eden in December 2014 claims that he had already been drinking, was given a beer at the club, and soon passed out, only to find multiple charges totaling $90,000 on his card the next day.

A guy who speaks to NBC Bay Area in the video below with his face blacked out tells a less extreme story in which he went into Little Darlings one night around Christmas 2014 because he was lonely, and the club scanned his driver's license at the door. He says he was told his debit card was declined after he received a lap dance, and he had to take a couple hundred dollars out of the ATM to pay her. But he then claims he found a $2,500 charge on his bank card, wiping out his account — and he insists he never would have signed a receipt for $2,200 with a $300 tip. His bank sided with the club because his signature appeared to be on the receipt, but he claims the club got his signature off his driver's license and forged it.

SFPD spokesman Sgt. Mike Andraychak sounds sympathetic with the men — now 20 of them in all who have come forward with similar complaints in the last two years — and he tells the station, "We don’t know exactly what’s going on, but we know something is definitely going on."

Deja Vu denies all allegations and claimed ignorance of the investigation, saying 99 percent of all their transaction disputes are resolved in their favor. Further they claim in a statement "we go to extraordinary measures to ensure the patron is aware of the charges he is incurring; fingerprinting to videotaping each and every transaction. At no time is a dancer able to process a credit card charge without the patron present.”

The men bringing the claims are of course in a vulnerable position, legally, especially since most would admit they were drinking at the time of the allegedly shady transactions. So really the lesson here is CARRY CASH if you're going to a strip club and don't give anyone a credit card. How are you going to make it rain otherwise?

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