Cibolo Businessman Faces Federal Charges Related to a Scheme to Defraud High School Students
George Alberto Barragan, 45 of Cibolo, TX, faces federal charges in connection with an alleged scheme to steal money from high school students who paid for group travel opportunities to celebrate their graduations, announced U.S. Attorney John F. Bash and FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, San Antonio Division.
A federal grand jury indictment unsealed today charges Barragan with three counts of mail fraud, four counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
According to the indictment, 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 online payment portal either in full up front, or provide an initial deposit with a deadline by which payment needed to be completed. Once in possession of victims’s funds, Barragan would make reservations and provide confirmations and itineraries to victims purporting to show that desired travel arrangements had been arranged.
Prior to travel, Barragan would cancel reservations and thus, receive a refund of the victims’s monies into an account he controlled. Barragan never notified his victims of the cancellations. In fact, he kept communicating with his victims after he cancelled their trip, 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. The indictment also specifically alleges that in April 2018, Barragan illegally used a credit card number and personal information provided by a customer to make a $6,000 payment for a set of hotel rooms in San Diego, CA, for an unrelated client.
According to the indictment, Barragan perpetrated 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 $160,000.
Following his initial appearance today, Barragan was released on bond. Upon conviction, Barragan faces up to a mandatory two years in federal prison for aggravated identity theft and up to 20 years in federal prison on each of the remaining mail and wire fraud charges.
The FBI investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Chung is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendant is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.