Woman Ordered to Stand Trial for Allegedly Bilking Travel Customers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2011

CONTACT: Erica Terry Derryck, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1167
ADA Seth Steward, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1014

WOMAN ORDERED TO STAND TRIAL FOR ALLEGEDLY BILKING TRAVEL CUSTOMERS

SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced today that Xiao Yuan “Eileen” Cai, age 56, of San Francisco was held to answer on charges of grand theft, failure to return funds and witness dissuasion. The complaint also included allegations of excessive takings.

The charges stem from defendant Cai allegedly running an unlicensed travel agency called Golden Hill Travel in Chinatown which allegedly did not provide services that were paid for by the victims. Beginning in 2008, and particularly in the summer and fall of that year, the defendant is alleged to have begun stealing money from customers – taking money for airline tickets and other travel services and providing neither tickets, nor refunds. By the time the alleged fraud became well known in the community, the defendant is alleged to have stolen in excess of $150,000 from over 100 customers and shuttered her business.

When this case was initially charged in 2008, there were under 30 victims. Now there are 112 victims named in the case. Almost all are Chinese American and a number are over 65 years of age.

“The conduct alleged in this case is a clear example of what happens when an individual abuses their access to and knowledge of their own community for selfish gain,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “Thanks to the diligent work of police and prosecutors, we are sending a loud and clear message to the immigrant residents of our City that when crimes are committed against them, we will hold the perpetrators accountable.”

The holding order was handed down on March 15, 2011 by the Honorable Suzanne Bolanos in Department 19 of San Francisco Superior Court following a preliminary hearing that took place before Judge Bolanos over roughly 25 days from August 2010 to January 2011. The defendant was held to answer on 52 felony counts and two misdemeanors involving 112 named victims. The defendant’s next court appearance is scheduled for March 29, 2011 in Department 22 of San Francisco Superior Court, where she will be arraigned on the information and the case will be set for trial.

Defendant Cai was arrested on October 18, 2008 and held in lieu of $500,000 until she was released on her own recognizance by the court in December 2008 over the prosecutor’s objections. Today, Judge Bolanos denied the prosecution motion again to set bail at $500,000. Instead, the court ordered the defendant to be placed on electronic monitoring by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department.

This case is the result of an investigation led by San Francisco Police Sergeant Bobby Cheung and members of the District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigations.

Binh Trinh and Monica Tan of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office Victim Services Unit and Sean Do of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Consumer Fraud Unit have been providing support to victims throughout the prosecution of this case.

Assistant District Attorney Max Peltz is the prosecutor.

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