The owners of the Smiles II strip club in Roxbury, New Jersey, have been arrested along with others on charges of money laundering and racketeering. The owners also face charges for failure to file a tax return and misconduct by a corporate official.
A 10-month investigation by the attorney general's office called "Operation Smiles," led to the arrests. The AG's office released a statement saying that those involved in the alleged scheme used stolen credit cards to buy gift cards at Target and other stores. Those gift cards were then redeemed at the strip club in phony transactions and the money was split among those involved.
The gift cards were also used in other transactions at the club and the cash was put into business accounts under the business name of She-Kev Inc., which is the corporate name for the bar.
The alleged scheme also targeted people on Craigslist and eBay who were looking to buy a car. The potential buyers were told to purchase gift cards for use in the transactions. Another part of the scheme allegedly involved the elderly in what is often a common scam. Someone would call the elderly people and tell them that their grandkid is in jail and needs money in order to post bond. The alleged victims were told to buy gift cards and then rely the information about the card to someone who the caller believed was a police officer.
The attorney general said the "bogus credit" has been frozen and the arrests have stopped the alleged scheme.
Those arrested range in age from 23 to 71. All of the individuals are in the Morris County jail, with bail amounts up to $250,000.
When there are many defendants arrested and accused of participation in such a scheme, it is important to remember that the prosecution may try to use some to offer evidence against others in an attempt at lesser charges. Your attorney will be able to provide advice on how to proceed with your case and what your legal options are.
Source: NJ.com, "Go-go bar owner, others ran $9M credit card theft ring, AG says," Paul Milo, NJ Advance Media, July 29, 2016