Rush City Woman Pleads Guilty to $1.8 Million Scheme Involving Romance Fraud and Federal Pandemic Programs
MINNEAPOLIS – A California woman has pleaded guilty to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and filing a false tax return after embezzling more than $1 million from her employer, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger.
According to the guilty plea and court documents, Mai Houa Xiong, 47, of Fresno, California, was employed as a financial manager for a Minneapolis-based property management company that provided financial services to homeowners’ associations (HOAs) throughout the Twin Cities metro area. Xiong’s duties included bookkeeping, and as a manager she had access to the victim associations’ financials, bank accounts, vendor and contractor payments, and bookkeeping systems. Between February 2015 and February 2022, Xiong devised and executed a fraud scheme to embezzle funds directly from the accounts to which she had access. These funds were HOA fees collected from residents intended to pay for maintenance, construction, and other costs incurred by the victim associations.
As part of the scheme, Xiong repeatedly accessed bank accounts and conducted electronic transfers of funds directly into her personal bank accounts. Xiong disguised these transfers by mislabeling them to make it appear as if they were legitimate homeowner association expenses. Xiong also used her authority as a signatory to make cash withdrawals directly from the HOAs’ accounts, including making withdrawals after she was fired from her position in July 2021. After her termination, Xiong began collecting Unemployment Insurance (UI) funds. However, even after Xiong found new employment, she continued to wrongfully obtain public UI benefits.
Xiong pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court before Chief Judge Patrick J. Schiltz to one count of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of making and subscribing a false tax return. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled at a later time.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the IRS – Criminal Investigations, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and the Minneapolis Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Allison K. Ethen is prosecuting the case.