Travel agent scammed Chinatown customers

October 21, 2008 10:06:31 PM PDT
San Francisco police investigators said there are more than 100 victims of a travel agency fraud case in Chinatown.

About a dozen of the victims came to court Tuesday; most were elderly Chinese who dipped into their savings to go to China.

Many had never been inside a courtroom before, but they came to see Xiao Yuan Cai, the woman they claim cheated them out of their money.

Cai was arrested Saturday at her outer Mission District home.

The victims at the hearing were still angry. It is the biggest scam in Chinatown in memory, Sgt. Bobby Cheung said.

"So far, we have about 81 cases," Cheung said. "It's getting up there, over 130 victims and in excess of $190,000."

When the victims saw Cai in her orange prisoner uniform, they were able to leave somewhat appeased.

Anna Tong's parents bought a package tour to China, but Cai absconded with their $3,000, she said.

"That's a lot of money and they have been saving for a really long time just to go back," Tong said.

ABC7 first reported this story two weeks ago when angry victims found Cai's Golden Hill Travel Agency in Chinatown shuttered without reason.

All of the victim shad a similar story: no reservation, no payment, but a receipt from Cai that she received the money in full.

Kimmy Yam paid Cai for tickets to Hong Kong so she could go to a wedding. She got what she thought were e-tickets, but when she called the airline, they did not have her name.

"We've charged her with 40 counts that range from doing this work without a license to elder abuse to fraud and theft," district attorney Kamala Harris said.

Cai is being held on $500,000 said and she is due back in court in December.


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