Fraudulent Night Club Chain Under Scrutiny

 

Order striptease and a cocktail, wake up with your account wiped clean. Małopolska police is to co-ordinate an investigation against a chain of nightclubs, Cocomo, accused of extortion in several of their branches all over Poland.

In March this year Krakow gasped with unbelief as bright red lights of a go-go club illuminated the windows of a historical tenement house at the corner of Grodzka St. and the Market Square - the very heart of historical Krakow. The venue, Cocomo, not only violated the regulations of the Cultural Park, which is very restrictive when it comes to illumination of historical buildings, but what's worse, it belonged to a chain that has grown notorious for extortion all over Poland as well.

Cocomo is the flagship chain of over 20 night clubs of a Krakow-based company, Event. Its owner, Jan Szybawski, is now standing a trial for running a criminal group dealing with falsification of documents. A translation agency the group ran, prepared registration papers for cars imported from abroad based only on scans or copies of original documents, and the translators were not sworn professionals.

The Cocomo chain has also grown notorious in recent months. The chain does not hesitate to rent facilities in strict historical or tourist centres of cities all over Poland, and employ scantily clad girl promoters who accost potential customers outside the club. This causes protests from both officials responsible for brand management, as well as residents. Gdans, Sopot, Kielce, Warsaw, Poznan and other locations fight the phenomenon of "thailandisation", as it was dubbed by the media, by frequent inspections of health inspectors, liquor license controllers and urban preservationists. However, to a poor effect, as the chain runs legal business activity in private houses.

What's more, Polish media reported multiple cases of extortion after possible drugging all over the country, and even fatal beatings. There are almost 50 cases running in many cities of Poland, with one common scenario. Customers remember only paying for their first cocktail and striptease in Cocomo, and waking up 24 hours later with their bank accounts wiped clean, and even with letters of enforcement amounting to several thousand złotys. For example, a Dutch and a Swiss reported to Krakow police in June this year, with 25,000 and 30,000 zlotys missing from their accounts, respectively. "The gentlemen couldn't remember neither the card transactions, nor what they paid for" said Katarzyna Cisło from Małopolska police press office. "Both reports will be combined and investigated as one case".

A few cases are now running in various prosecutor's offices concerning artificially high prices of drinks in Cocomo. The most famous case is the one of a director of a major Polish metallurgy company, who spent almost a million zlotys in the Poznan Cocomo branch in spring this year. Similarly, the man remembers only entering the club and ordering the first cocktail. So far, the prosecution accused the manager and a few employees, but the court didn't decide on arresting them.

In most cases, however, the prosecution would discontinue several legal proceedings all over Poland. The men were found guilty of their own negligence, because they were entering their PIN codes and the prices of cocktails were enlisted in the menu (the most expensive champagne costs 15,000 zlotys).

The owner of Cocomo, Event doesn't speak to the press, only publishes announcements on their website. However, after the city of Sopot decided to sue Cocomo for infringement of its good image this summer, in September this year Event decided to close Cocomo clubs in all locations. Instead, new striptease clubs opened in their places, with different names and colours. And indeed, in Grodzka there is now Wild Night, and Pleasure in Florianska. The characteristic pink umbrellas of the girl promoters were now closed, and not opened, as before.

"We are changing. There won't be any Cocomo no more, and we're giving up our umbrellas. Each venue will have a different name, but we are to walk the streets as before and encourage customer to come in" says a blonde hostess, introducing herself as Angela.

"A change of name is legal, many businessmen do it to improve their reputation. Introducing new signs will allow to run their clubs relieved of previous notorious reputation. Maybe also with a new policy" comments Zbigniew Ćwiąkalski, lawyer and former Minister of Justice.

Krakow officials are now said to "look closely" at regulations that Sopot is bringing up in their lawsuit, and considering whether to join it to the campaign against the chain. "It is obvious that business activity that these clubs run is not improving Krakow's reputation, but it's a precedent case and we need to consider all legal arguments brought up by Sopot. From the formal viewpoint the company runs legal and registered business activity" comments Filip Szatanik, the head of Krakow magistrate press office.

At the beginning of October Małopolska police created a special unit to investigate reports of extortion in Cocomo from all over Poland. The reason behind such a decision is that Event, the suspect company is located in Krakow. Apparently the investigation will be a challenging task, as the majority of the aggrieved declined blood tests which would confirm the hypothesis of spiked drinks served in the night clubs.

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Juan manuel from Spain Reply Sep 22nd, 2017

Yo también fui estafado.ya que no tienen lista de precios. Y la camarera te pone el precio que quiere,sin saber el servicio que has pagado.

Jason from Australia Reply Jun 30th, 2017

The same happened to us, we were not drugged but were conned. Their trick is 2 menu's.... they get you to order a drink for 70zl and then when it comes to pay they bring out the same menu with a price of 70 euro - threaten to call the police, which would just be their gang & standover you until you pay. Gee how we wish we did a search on this before we came in.

french man from France Reply Jan 3rd, 2017

30.12.2016 : the same :I was a little bit drunk but not too much, drinking a beer and asking for a show. Then I receive two shots and after that, i only have flashs. looking my bank account 3 days after and I see that they tried to take 4000 zloti (1000 euros) but don't arrive. They have tried and other amount and arrive to take 2000 zloty (500 euros). I really don't remember and it's the first time of my life (and I party a lot...). The bank say that it will be difficult to have the monney back because I have done the PIN code. BE CAREFUL

Andrea from Poland May 29th, 2017

Exactly the same happened to me. Did you get your money back finally? I called the police and I am waiting for my money back

US depleted from United States Reply Dec 16th, 2016

This happened to me in August in Warsaw. Club Minus. $56,000. Bank of America has been no help at all. what do I do??

English man from Poland Reply Nov 2nd, 2016

Thieves and con artists! Don't ever use plastic. Managed to get £800 from my account

Simon from United Kingdom Reply Oct 26th, 2016

This happened to me in September 2016. I think I got spiked as don't remember anything, not even using my credit cards. Lost £2,500, told the police and action fraud but the credit card companies don't want to know as I was there and still have my cards! Anyone had any joy getting their money back?

UK from United Kingdom Reply Aug 18th, 2016

The same thing is still happening in Poznan too. Just one payment with my credit card. After that I cannot remember anything (probably drugged). A couple of days later I notice my full balance was taken from my credit card. I cannot believe this is possible in an country part of the European Union!

Neil_F from United Kingdom Reply Jun 21st, 2016

I am in Krakow right now (21st June 2016), and I can tell you, these girls are STILL at it! I was accosted 6 times last night on Florianska St, these girls will hunt you down and pester you without mercy! When you say "No thankyou" they just stand there saying "Why? Why?"..........Beware the Red Umbrellas!

Canada man from Canada Reply Nov 25th, 2015

They are still doing it !!! The new name of the Cocomo club in Sopot is "Kitty/Kitten Club". Was recently drugged and robbed. Remember one drink and woke up the next morning totally blank with all my cash gone and ridiculous charges on my cards. The effects of the drugs left me sick for over 5 days.

UK guy from United Kingdom Reply Nov 10th, 2015

I got done on Saturday night / Sunday morning. They charged me about £6k in total, and didnt throw me out after I was sick. I only remember one drink in there and was pretty fine till then. My friends called the police to get me out, police did nothing. I have now left it too long for blood tests and cant report it in the UK.

Peter from Canada Reply Nov 8th, 2015

November 5, 2015 It cost me $ 20 000 for only one drink. What can be done ?

Chris massac from United States Reply Sep 30th, 2015

Stay away.. Girls and security are very shady.. Girls stole my brothers walker..They beat up my friend.. The local police look out for this place.. The police we ran into didn't care that we got beat up..

Håkon Jarl from Norway Reply Aug 24th, 2015

24. August. I have been observating the girls with blue umbrellas from a far and they only contact single men. I believe they being watched by their "guards" whos are into the fraud.

Dave from United Kingdom Reply Apr 26th, 2015

Agree with Ian was there this weekend April 2015 although had no problems whilst using cash Amazing girls but DO NOT under any circumstances use the plastic no matter what. luckily the bank stopped the transactions . Got home to find out they tried to take a couple of payments for 650.00 a time but was declined .

Ian from United Kingdom Reply Apr 16th, 2015

Yes - got burned at Wild Night, last night. Tricks include: cash dispenser that issues lower denomination notes; 'declined' on valid credit cards (thankfully, actually) driving you to use cash dispenser; and cutting short agreed times. Still checking account, to make sure nothing dodgy happened with credit card. Girls are stunning, but don't be fooled. That are very good at getting your cash.