Lap dancing club 'charged man £50,000 in single night while he was drunk'

5 January 2020, 21:38

A man has complained after allegedly being charged £50,000 for a single night in a strip club
A man has complained after allegedly being charged £50,000 for a single night in a strip club. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

A London strip club could lose its licence after customers claimed they were conned out of thousands of pounds while drunk.

SophistiCats, which bills itself as the capital's "premier" lap dancing club, on Eversholt Street in Euston, Camden, could lose its Sexual Entertainment Venues (SEV) licence next week after patrons alleged they were victims of fraud.

The Metropolitan Police and Camden Trading Standards have both recommended that the licence is not renewed by Camden Council on January 9.

It comes after one customer, who works in finance, told police he woke up to find credit card receipts totalling £50,000, after visiting the venue on February 27 2019, according to a report by Camden Council.

The man claimed he did not remember agreeing to pay the amount, which included £28,000 charged to his credit card "in the last few minutes" before he left the venue.

He told police he first visited the SophistiCats club on Brewer Street in Soho at about 2.15am, before later being transported by car to the Eversholt Street venue, which he had no recollection of.

A police officer who reviewed CCTV footage from inside the Camden club's VIP area on the night said it was "clear" the man was not fully aware of what was going on around him.

The bottles of champagne were priced at £1,000
The bottles of champagne were priced at £1,000. Picture: PA

A card machine was taken into the VIP area, while a waitress "on more than one occasion" indicated for performers to start dancing, which appeared to distract the man as he entered his card details, the officer said in the report.

"All of these actions appear to be aggressive sales techniques with the victim looking unaware of his surroundings and predicament," the officer said.

"This victim did not even know that he had attended the SophistiCats in Camden, as his last memories were of him and his friend having a drink in the SophistiCats venue in Soho, Westminster."

The man bought several bottles of champagne, each costing £1,000, during the night in the VIP area, Camden Trading Standards said.

However, he was unable to make a "reasoned decision" on whether to buy them as there was no price list on display in the venue at the time.

In a statement, SophistiCats said a review of CCTV from February 27 found no evidence and that the allegation was "non-crimed" in a police report.

SophistiCats, which bills itself as the capital&squot;s "premier" lap dancing club, has multiple branches in London
SophistiCats, which bills itself as the capital's "premier" lap dancing club, has multiple branches in London. Picture: PA

The Met Police said an investigation into the February 27 allegation was ongoing and that no arrests had been made.

SophistiCats said all prices for champagne are listed on menus placed on all tables in the club.

Meanwhile, another man claimed £8,000 was taken from his account in several transactions during a drunken visit on September 28, "without his consent", while his friend was charged £2,500, the report said.

The Met's licensing officer said in the report: "All of the above allege that they believe that they are victims of fraudulent activities."

SophistiCats claimed the customers from the September 28 visit returned to the club to view CCTV and no further action was taken.

Trading standards said despite new owners taking over the SEV licence within the past year, practices at the club "have not changed".

The report, which will go before Camden Council's licensing sub-committee on Thursday, along with the club's application, says the club implemented a series of changes following the February 27 incident.

They include the installation of a new CCTV system, staff training on the responsible supply of alcohol, and refresher training on the SEV licence conditions.

Another visit by a licensing enforcement officer on November 14 found the premises was "compliant" with regulations at the time.

Trading standards and the Met said that if the licence is renewed, new conditions should be imposed, including earlier closing times and for transactions to be recorded audibly, as well as on CCTV.

SophistiCats said in a statement: "These are allegations not incidents and the club will supply, at the hearing, a full rebuttal to all accusations."