By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
Theoretically, even without trading excrement for tips, escorts working for Vanmoor could generate some serious coin. If only the cards weren't so stacked against them: For starters, on nearly every call, they were required to throw $20 to the driver of the car that took them to the hotel, Susan and Ginger contend. Plus, the women claim, most of the girls working the agency route have drug problems. "Still, I made really good money," Susan says. "I made $1,000 a night there. Well, actually, I made $2,000, but they got half."
Ginger says the agency kept its escorts busy. "You could easily do 12 calls a day working for Arthur," Ginger says, "and that's a lot. The biggest time of year was the boat show. They would send you down in teams, and you'd do, like, 20 calls a day."
Eventually, working with Vanmoor became less lucrative due to the system of fines and penalties he would levy against those women in his employ. "He would fine you for being late," Ginger says, smacking the ass-end of a pack of smokes on her coffee table. "You would think they'd want you to cultivate a 45-minute call, so [the customer would] want to see you again, but Arthur wanted you in and out and going back out on another call. They got a percentage, so it was in their interest to send you out as much as possible. If they thought you took too long to take a shower and get back to the office, they'd fine you for that. He would fine you for not being dressed right. Sometimes you had to wear heels and a dress. [The rules] were never consistent."
According to police surveillance and the escorts themselves, Vanmoor's employees had to work shifts at the office, some as long as 12 hours, whether or not they had a date. "He treated you like you were literally a piece of meat -- it was like a sweatshop," Ginger says.
Apparently for Vanmoor, this was an effective technique for keeping track of the women staffing his agency. "One time, he fined me $80 times six," Susan says. "He said I was seeing his clients outside of the service. If you stopped getting requests -- like, if you had a guy requesting you every Saturday for two months and then he stopped calling you -- [Vanmoor] would say that you were seeing him outside of the service, and he would fine you. Or they'd cut you off and not give you any work."
The office was rigged with audio and video recording equipment, say police who raided the agency. "The room had a couch, a TV, and a pool table," Ginger says. "They had an intercom, and they'd listen to your conversation. And they would listen in and fine you if they knew you were talking dissent. They'd call you in and fine you for a conversation you thought you had in private."
"They take the cell phones from the girls," Susan continues, "and if it rings while confiscated, they'll answer it. They don't care if it's your mother or who it is."
Ginger confirms this, saying the company kept tabs on customers by keeping a list of callers whose numbers were captured via Caller ID. "When you walked in, you had to give them your cell phone. They'd go through it to see if any of the numbers matched up with any of the people who had suddenly gone missing from the call list." Eventually, Vanmoor and some of his phone managers became convinced that Susan was seeing clients on her own time. "So they told the other girls to keep my phone and fire me," she says. "And they burnt it! They broke it into two pieces, and they burned the battery."
Ginger grew tired of the job and quit. "If there was anyone threatening to unionize girls in that office, it probably would have been me," she laughs as she stubs out a cigarette. "Arthur didn't like me because I wouldn't put up with any of his crap. He doesn't like a lot of sass." When she left, she says trouble seemed to be dogging the agency -- Ginger even thinks the IRS may have been on his trail. Indeed, a bankruptcy court document shows that in 1998, he owed the feds $169,878.
Even behind gray walls, Vanmoor has enjoyed conjugal visits from Lady Luck. During the 1997-98 investigation, Detective Margolis said he had discovered evidence that a California bank -- Humboldt Bancorp of Roseville -- was allowing the Dutchman to launder the money he was bringing in via his illegal escort operation by transferring funds from the bank to a Smith Barney account.
At first, Humboldt Bank "refused to honor my subpoena," Margolis testified. However, his tactic ultimately proved successful when, in October 2001, the bank, along with Cardservice International and Mastercard International, agreed to terminate its arrangement with Vanmoor's agencies. For five years, the companies had processed as much as $50,000 a week generated by Vanmoor's businesses at rates more than triple what low-risk ventures would carry. After he'd been dumped, Vanmoor sued them in March 2002, charging that the companies had blacklisted him by advising other credit-card processors not to provide service to him.