Lawsuit: 3 Arizona strip clubs drugged customers, charged credit cards for $1 million

A lawsuit claims three Scottsdale area strip clubs used an elaborate scheme to charge customers’ credit cards for excessively high amounts without authorization.

Nearly 20 alleged victims are suing these clubs and records show there are more people with similar experiences.

Left incapacitated, waking up lost and confused about finding several credit card transactions worth tens of thousands of dollars. That’s how plaintiffs describe what happened to them at three clubs.

The total amount of money charged between them easily clears a million dollars.

The alleged victims are feeling violated and are stripped of peace of mind.

'I felt like I kind of didn’t have control of the situation …’

Within the nightlife of the Valley is a two-mile stretch from Loop 202 down North Scottsdale Road past McDowell Road.

Some look to stay out after dinner and drinks.

Take a drive, and you’ll notice three strip clubs on that stretch of road.

Dream Palace is in Tempe, and Skin Cabaret and Bones Cabaret are in Scottsdale. All three, referred to as "sister clubs," are now at the center of a civil lawsuit. 

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Dream Palace

The latest complaint and demand for a jury trial was filed in January. The complaint accuses ownership of racketeering, conspiracy and several other allegations.

There are now nearly 20 plaintiffs in the case, and we spoke to two who want to remain anonymous.

We’ll call the first alleged victim "Joe."

Joe says he and his friends were at Bones Cabaret four years ago when he got separated after going to the bathroom.

"I remember walking through what I thought was a cloud of perfume or makeup or something like dusty from one of the kind of cracks of light that was coming through and that’s when I ended up in the VIP room and started to get these symptoms not alcohol-related, something else that made me acquiesce and go along to what they seemed to be pushing," Joe said.

He believes he was drugged.

Joe says he didn't take a drug test, nor did other plaintiffs in the case, but they all say they became incapacitated after entering VIP rooms.

"I felt like I kind of didn’t have control of the situation and that was really the first instance that I knew," he said.

He couldn’t get out of the VIP room, while his friends couldn’t get in, Joe said, before he was moved to Dream Palace.

The next day, he discovered several charges on multiple credit cards.

"Just under $72,000," he said.

Joe isn't alone.

‘It’s been literally life and career altering’

FOX 10 obtained Scottsdale Police reports specifically linked to the clubs mentioned in the lawsuit.

In September 2021, a financial crimes detective says he started seeing many cases reported by alleged victims detailing common factors like VIP rooms, having memory loss, signing and thumbprinting paperwork, photos taken of them, and extremely high credit card charges.

Reports say patrons visited from several different states, telling police they were brought into VIP rooms.

Another plaintiff we’ll call "Bobby" describes the same experience.

"Just confused," he said. "Just felt lost, spaced out. Like I said, just had no clue where I was at that point."

He admits to only two transactions he agreed to, paying for drinks and a private dance, but after that, Bobby says he authorized nothing else at Skin Cabaret.

He said he felt out of sorts mentally and physically for the rest of the night. He later found eight transactions on his credit card account.

"Didn’t think that these were actually legitimate transactions at that point. It just seemed unconscionable that this would even happen. Especially the charges, the single transaction amounts, that were processed," he said.

His total amount of charges was the highest of all the plaintiffs. $181,000.

The fallout has been traumatic.

"Couldn’t have an appetite to eat for days after this had occurred … strain on not only myself, a family, wife, had to get my parents involved. We had little children as well so just the impact emotionally was pretty difficult to bear," Bobby said.

Joe is in the Air Force, stationed in Arizona, and is now feeling the stress.

"It’s been terrible. It’s been literally life and career-altering for me. My career took a detour off the trajectory that I had worked hard to provide for myself," he said.

'It felt like watching a movie through my own eyes'

"They all tell the same story yet none of them have met," said Rod Galarza, the attorney representing nearly 20 plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Police reports reveal how the VIP room process works.

After negotiating a price with a hostess, the customer signs a contract, provides a credit card, ID, gives a thumbprint and takes a photo.


Rod Galarza, the attorney representing nearly 20 plaintiffs in the lawsuit

As the lawsuit states, plaintiffs believe they were somehow drugged, claiming they barely remember signing any contract at all.

"They vaguely recall someone yelling at them to ‘quit messing around and to hold the pen properly’ to sign a document on a clipboard, or alternatively being yelled at by a bouncer or hostess to ‘sit up straight and smile, we’re trying to take your picture, you’re not smiling,'" Galarza said.

Joe recalls his experience.

"It felt like watching a movie through my own eyes. It was kind of almost an out-of-body experience because, in my mind, I’m screaming to myself that this is wrong, to leave, to fight my way out, but they have the bouncer at the door, the disorienting hallways, like I don’t think I’m going to make it out," Joe said.

One plaintiff claims club reps approved transactions via text with credit card companies by using the face ID function, holding the owner’s iPhone in front of their face to unlock it.

Debt lingers for the alleged victims

The complaint says Todd Borowsky is the sole director, shareholder and president of Wisnowski, Incorporated, which does business under Skin Cabaret and Bones Cabaret.

In a court filing by the defendants last month, they denied all allegations.

Borowsky’s lawyer, Dennis Wilenchik, released a statement to FOX 10 that reads, "The cases are baseless. It's like going into a casino and asking for your money back after you choose to be there. First, they were not drugged. Second, the dancers were independent contractors. Third, these guys received services they expressly contracted for and received and documentation and photos were taken, and fourth, their credit card companies also investigated and approved the transactions."

Joe says his credit card company left him on the hook with the entire debt.

"They said that I consented to having my cards charged at these locations, so they ended up holding me accountable for these charges and I’m still recovering from that," he said.

Galarza says charges exceeded credit card limits for clients, specifically with American Express accounts.

"In each one of these cases, an American Express card was used and in virtually every case, the credit limit was exceeded," he said.

Bobby’s American Express credit card limit was around $22,0000, yet his charges totaled more than $180,000.

A spokesperson for American Express responded, saying, "'American Express’ policy is to review all disputes, including considering evidence submitted by our card members and seeking merchant support for the disputed charges. We followed our standard policies and procedures in this case. Due to the pending litigation, we do not have further comment at this time."

According to Galarza, the average total charge for each plaintiff is $72,000. With nearly 20 victims, the sum is more than $1.1 million.

What now?

"You just don’t think it’s going to happen to you and there are people that prey on unsuspecting people," Bobby said.

Joe is traumatized by this.

"I’ve done as much as I can think to compartmentalize the situation and try to control what I can control and get over it, but every time I make progress in my life to move on, I get an email about it, I get a text about it, I remember that I could be able to afford x, y, or z or have savings built up and capitalize and have those options that I’ve rightfully earned but that all got taken away from me," Joe said.

The Scottsdale Police Department and Maricopa County Sheriff's Office are aware, and investigators are working with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office on cases involving Bones Cabaret, Skin Cabaret and Dream Palace.

The attorney general's office declined to comment. No trial date has been set at this time.