Two Bulgarian women who discovered hidden cameras in their Tampa apartment have filed a lawsuit against the man who offered them a job here and placed them in a Westchase apartment.
In their lawsuit, 23-year-old Ralitsa Dzhambazova and 22-year-old Vanya Samokovareva accuse Raj Armani of video voyeurism, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The women say they discovered several hidden cameras in their apartment, including in their bedroom and bathroom, two months after moving in.
Armani, whose real name is Nadir Punjani, offered the two women jobs as waitresses in his Indian café called Bollywood, which recently closed its doors.
The women say they fear Punjani videotaped them and put their images online.
"We are victims of some pervert," Samokovareva said.
Along with the lawsuit, the women filed an emergency motion for preservation, asking a judge to order Punjani to hold on to any computers, laptops, servers or WiFi boxes that might have been connected to the cameras.
They also asked the court for an emergency injunction ordering Punjani and his companies, Bollywood Cafe-Tampa, LLC, Bollywood Cafe-Westchase, LLC and Pizza Babes, LLC, to immediately stop displaying any video.
Their attorney, Mark Wright, says Dzhambazova and Samokovareva want to know if they were videotaped in their apartment and what happened with the computer server they discovered in a locked closet two months after they moved in. The lawsuit accuses Punjani of sneaking into the apartment once the cameras were discovered and removing the WiFi box or server.
"Our first choice would be to immediately set a time for us to inspect it, but the second choice would be to document what he has and make sure that he doesn't destroy it or lose it at the bottom of Hillsborough Bay," Wright said.
Dzhambazova and Samokovareva worked with an agency called American Work Experience to find a summer job in the United States.
They say Punjani asked them for a video resume.
"He saw this video resume and after that he talked to us on Skype, with me and Vanya, and he said you're approved," Dzhambazova said.
Dzhambazova and Samokovareva signed an employment agreement to work at Bollywood café starting at $4.25 an hour plus tips.
According to the lawsuit, Punjani rented a three-bedroom apartment to be used by the women as well as others at the Tuscany Bay apartments in Westchase. Punjani, Bollywood and Pizza Babe, LLC, sublet the apartment. Dzhambazova and Samokovareva each paid $300 a month to live there and share the same bedroom.
Wright says Punjani signed the lease May 23 and received the keys on May 26. Two days later, the women arrived in Tampa, but Punjani told them they had to spend two nights in a hotel, the women said.
The lawsuit claims that while the women were in the hotel or shortly before, Punjani placed hidden cameras throughout the apartment, including their bedroom and bathroom.
"You take a shower, you take it naked. You know, the restroom is your private space, not only the restroom and the bathroom, if you live in your apartment you don't want somebody to watch you all the time," Samokovareva said.
Dzhambazova and Samokovareva said shortly after they arrived, Punjani asked them to model for a new business he was starting up called Pizza Babe.
"He said you are so beautiful, you can take the job to work for this company," Dzhambazova said.
They discovered the cameras July 24 when two men that Punjani moved into the apartment became suspicious about the locations of motion and smoke detectors.
The cameras were connected to wires that were hidden in a white sheathing that ran alongside the white door casing. The wires were hidden beneath the carpeting and led to a closet with a lock on it.
Dzhambazova and Samokovareva called the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. The lawsuit claims that the next day Punjani let himself into the apartment and removed the server or WiFi box the cameras were connected to before detectives arrived.
The sheriff's office says the case remains under investigation.
Bollywood has since closed. Efforts to contact Punjani have been unsuccessful.
"Me and Rali were so excited to come to the United States, it was like our big dream," Samokovareva said. "I'm feeling sad, I'm feeling bad, I'm feeling violated."