A Chinatown travel agent was accused Thursday of bilking 14 people, nine older than 60, out of $16,000 they had paid for airfare to China — and may have victimized seven more people, according to Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office.
Linda Do, 57, was arraigned Thursday 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, ordering her to surrender her passport and wear a GPS ankle bracelet monitoring device.
After Do’s court-appointed defense attorney, Stephen Gomes, told Dougan his client was broke, the judge 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 she filed for bankruptcy Thursday. The disagreement between Do and her clients was a business matter, he said, not a criminal issue.
“It’s a situation, basically, of a business going under,’’ said Gomes, who added that Do has no criminal record, is a mother and an American citizen who moved to the United States 23 years ago.
He said Do had been running a travel agency on Harrison Avenue in Chinatown called Olympic Travel.
Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Neil Flynn told Dougan that Do persuaded the 14 alleged victims to pay her in cash for the flights to China between May and September. Do then either made no travel plans or canceled flights after she collected the money.
“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.’’
Do offered a 10 percent discount for anyone who paid her in cash, prosecutors said.
“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 out of funds.
“I do not have money,’’ Flynn quoted her as telling police. “I do not have money to repay them.’’
Flynn said in court that there may be up to seven more victims.
Conley asked that anyone who believes they have been victimized by Do to contact Boston police.John R. Ellement can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.