A Chinatown travel agent was accused Thursday of bilking 14 people, nine of whom are older than 60, out of $16,000 they paid for plane fare to China and may have victimized seven more people, according to Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office.
Linda Do, 57, was arraigned in Boston Municipal Court on 14 counts of larceny over $250 and nine counts of larceny over $250 from a person over 60. She pleaded not guilty before Judge Raymond Dougan, who released her on personal recognizance.
After being told by Do’s court-appointed defense attorney, Stephen Gomes, that Do was broke, Dougan ordered her to appear in court by noon Friday with paperwork documenting her financial difficulties.
According to Gomes, Do and her husband are both unemployed, and Do filed for bankruptcy today. He said the disagreement between Do and her clients was a business matter, not a criminal issue.
“It’s a situation, basically, of a business going under,’’ said Gomes, who added that Do has no prior criminal record, is a mother and is an American citizen who moved to the US 23 years ago.
He said both Do and her husband are currently unemployed.
She had been running Olympic Travel, a travel agency on Harrison Avenue in Chinatown.
Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Neil Flynn told Dougan that Do convinced 14 people—prosecutors said nine of them are 60 years old or older—to pay her in cash for flights to China between May and September.
However, according to prosecutors, Do, kept the cash but did not make any travel plans or cancelled the flights after she collected the money. She also offered a 10 percent discount for anyone who paid her in cash.
“The defendant entices her customers to pay cash in exchange for a 10 percent discount,’’ Flynn said.
He said when Boston police contacted Do, she told them that she was broke. “I do not have money,’’ Flynn quoted her as telling police. “I do not have money to repay them.’’
According to the Suffolk district attorney’s office, between May and September, Do took $16,000 in cash from clients.
“Many of these victims were older and needed a translator to speak with investigators,” Conley said in a statement. “As outrageous as it sounds, they might have been considered easy targets. Fortunately, they came forward and told Boston Police what happened.’’
Conley asked anyone else who believes they have been victimized by Do to contact Boston police.
Dougane ordered Do to surrender her passport at Friday’s hearing and to wear a GPS ankle bracelet monitoring device.John R. Ellement can be reached at email@example.com