Travel agent arrested for bilking customers

October 20, 2008 4:27:32 PM PDT
A 53-year-old San Francisco woman is in police custody today after allegedly bilking more than 100 clients of her travel agency, primarily members of the Chinese community, out of nearly $200,000, police said.

Xiao Yuan Cai, the owner of Chinatown's Golden Hill Travel Agency, was arrested at her home on Saturday and booked on multiple counts of grand theft, according to police Sgt. Bobby Cheung.

Cheung said he'd received more than 80 reports involving at least 130 victims so far, complaining that they booked overseas flights to China with Cai, often months in advance, and never received their tickets.

"She would take the money, usually cash or a check, and then not book the flight," Cheung said. Other complaints involved bus tours to the Grand Canyon that never materialized, he said.

When worried clients called Cai to complain, "She would say they would issue a ticket as the date gets closer, that's how she would put them off," Cheung said.

The alleged crimes took place from February of this year until the travel agency closed at the end of September, Cheung said. He said a sign had been posted at the business saying it was moving to another location.

Cheung estimated the total losses at more than $190,000.

Others who suspect they may have been a victim of this fraud are asked to file a police report at their local police station.


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