Cibolo Businessman Admits to Defrauding High School Students
In San Antonio today, 46-year-old George Alberto Barragan of Cibolo admitted that he stole money from high school students who paid him for group travel opportunities to celebrate their graduations, announced U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff and FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, San Antonio Division.
Appearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Chestney, Barragan pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud. According to court records, Barragan owned and operated several travel agencies, including EB Worldwide, Exhibit Tours and Senior Grad Trips. He was the sole individual in charge of negotiating and contracting with customers as well as booking and arranging travel accommodations for large groups. Victim groups would pay Barragan by check or through an online payment portal to book the trips for them. Once in possession of victims’ funds, Barragan would make reservations and provide confirmations and itineraries to victims purporting to show that desired travel arrangements had been made.
Prior to travel, however, Barragan would cancel reservations and have the refunds deposited into his bank account. Barragan never notified his victims of the cancellations. In fact, he kept communicating with them after he cancelled their trips, informing them that their travel was still taking place. In at least two instances, large groups of students arrived at the designated time and location to begin their trip, only to find out that their trip had been cancelled.
By pleading guilty, Barragan admitted to perpetrating his scheme on no less than six different high school student groups between May 2015 and June 2018, resulting in an approximate total loss of at least $150,000.
Barragan, who remains on bond, faces up to 20 years in federal prison for mail fraud. Sentencing is scheduled for May 19, 2021, before U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez in San Antonio.
The FBI investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Chung is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.