Source St Petersburg police have carried out about fifty searches in the bars on Rubinstein Street and at the homes of the founders and staff. Dozens of people have been detained: they are suspected of setting up a criminal association and fraud on a particularly large scale. According to the investigation, wealthy customers were cheated out of alcohol, price tags and even casual acquaintances. This is the story of how St Petersburg’s hippest street has been, for the past year and a half, also seemingly the most dangerous. Many people know Rubinshtein Street: it’s full of bars and entertainment venues, and life never stops.
According to investigators, the criminal scheme was quite simple, but they managed to put it on stream. Nine establishments – bars, restaurants and strip clubs on Rubinstein – worked together. Each one had an overseer who noted visitors, and if a client seemed wealthy, a team of specially trained girls stepped in. They sat down with the men, who, of course, wanted to buy the ladies cocktails.
Fake girls ordered expensive drinks from fake waiters. Alcohol was mislabeled, giving the impression that it was elite but was actually bottled in garages on Rustaveli Street. The girls were given a non-alcoholic substitute.
When the customers got drunk, one of the prepared scenarios began. The waiter would slip a terminal to pay, and the girls would help by shining torches on the figure. The price tag was inflated dozens of times, and sometimes the proceeds from the client came to 3 million roubles per evening. At times, they might bring the terminal several times; the client, as the investigation noted, “didn’t pay much attention to the figures”. Sometimes the ladies would peek at the PIN code on the card, and sometimes they would take away expensive watches and other valuables.
When sobered up and furious customers came back the next day, the fake waiters had something to answer with, says 47news.ru correspondent Victor Smirnov:
Correspondent for the online edition 47news.ru
“These comrades were taking cover. They made a cut of the video from the cameras, where the person pays himself. This way, if he had a complaint, he was shown: ‘Comrade, you paid for it yourself. Moreover, they had a kind of team-building activity: all participants were gathered together and motivated. And the traces lead to Konovalov, the man who was sort of defending the Rubinstein bar movement, but got caught as an intermediary in a bribe, he’s in jail. At this point we know that most of them are admitting everything, telling us everything. A certain citizen Miasnikova has been detained and is being charged with the role of a ‘mummy’.
The organizers were the founders of the Bar Group legal entity, two young men from Surgut, Dmitry Kutsenko and Nikolai Abrosimov. They were gradually moving towards their goal of becoming a monopoly on Rubinstein. All the establishments that were raided belonged to them. These are Vice City, White Point, Perestroika, Nau, Noir, RS20, The Apron, Pizzeria Iskra and the strip club Provocateur.
Sometimes, in order to lull the customer’s guard, the girls would offer to move to another bar. The strip club, for example, even has mentions in reviews on Yandex that customers are cheated there for money.
The businessmen’s lawyer did not comment on the situation at the time of publication of the article. He only noted that all the establishments of these businessmen will remain closed for the time being.
The commercial move of getting girls to sit with clients and trick them into drinking has a name of its own: consummation. Officially there is nothing illegal about it – business is business. However, according to the investigation, the crime was that the alcohol was poured as counterfeit, the girls were actively involved in the intoxication and stole from the customers, the waiters were in on it and carried the terminals on several occasions. The investigation will try to make it look like the creation of a criminal association, suggests Yevgeny Korchago, chairman of the Korchago and Partners bar association:
Chairman of the Bar Association Korchago and Partners
“In this case we are talking about a way of committing fraud. That is, deception of the recipients of services. And consummation can be called a method of fraud. Firstly, to offer alcohol at a knowingly inflated price. The second is to switch from luxury alcohol to cheap booze which is likely to cause ill health. Third, by charging the victim’s cards a different amount than what was initially billed. All this is a way of committing the crime of fraud. I am not surprised that given the fact that there were a large number of episodes, there was a fairly serious organization, the investigation will see in the actions of an organized criminal group and there will be additional qualification under Article 210 of the Criminal Code.
Now the investigation has evidence from 11 citizens who were drugged by girls and drunk. The total amount of damage was about 10.5 million rubles. About 40 people have been detained to give evidence. During searches 600 litres of counterfeit alcohol were seized.
The penalty under the article on large-scale fraud is up to ten years in prison, and the criminal association factor can add another ten. Other victims may come forward after the publicity.