Protecting yourself

NY busts drug, prostitution ring with credit card twist

Jay MacDonald

Days before the Super Bowl, New York law enforcement ran a razzle-dazzle play around an alleged high-end drug and prostitution ring that doubtless left a small army of disappointed would-be customers cooling their jets in their mukluks.

According to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the 18 defendants now in custody managed to sidestep that whole annoying MC Hammer you-can’t-charge-this legal obstacle by bundling sex and drugs into “party packs” and using creative billing techniques to escape detection.

After all, nothing screams vice on a credit card statement quite like “hooker with coke.”

During an 11-month sting operation, undercover cops say they tracked the Manhattan-based ring as they marketed and delivered their “party packs” to wealthy customers from outer boroughs and out of state who were inbound to attend large events.

The timing of the bust, just four days before the big game, was no coincidence. A week earlier, the alleged “one-stop shopping” vice ring sent a text message to inform their frequent flyers that “new sexy & beautiful girls R in town waiting for u.” They even advertised on public access TV. 

How the alleged party-packers managed to accept credit cards for prostitutes and cocaine, as well as the creative way they managed to supersize those transactions, is worth noting. It was also worth slapping them with money laundering charges.

According to the AG, the customer would rendezvous with his rent-a-date in a Manhattan residential apartment. When cocaine was part of the package, it was charged as “hours” of, well, services. Once the john was sufficiently drug-addled, the couple would then be joined by a passel of prostitutes, each of whom would charge for her services, sometimes driving the customer’s tab to $10,000 a night.

So why no “hooker with coke” entries on the john’s credit card statement? The AG claims the alleged pleasure vendors disguised the illicit nature of the services rendered and product snorted by charging the john for legitimate services and products from various front businesses that, naturally, were never delivered.

The suspects alleged scrubbed millions in charges through a wig shop and a clothing wholesaler, as well as a limo and dating service.

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