California woman embezzled $1M from Twin Cities homeowners associations: charges

A California woman has been indicted in federal court for embezzling more than $1 million from her employer – a Minneapolis-based property management company that provided financial services for homeowners associations in the Twin Cities metro. 

Mai Houa Xiong, 47, of Fresno, California, is charged with five counts of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, four counts of making and subscribing a false return, and one count of failure to file an individual return. She was arrested on Sept. 22 and has made her first court appearance in the Eastern District of California, a news release from U.S. Attorney in Minnesota Andrew Luger says. 

According to the federal indictment, Xiong, who lived in Minnesota from May 2013-October 2021, worked for an unnamed management company in Minneapolis that managed properties for homeowners associations in the Twin Cities. Her duties included management and maintenance of residential properties; managing associations' funds and bookkeeping; and providing financial services for her company's clients. 

"She had nearly unfettered access to the victim homeowner’s associations’ financials, bank accounts, vendor and contractor payments, and bookkeeping systems," the U.S. Attorney's Office news release said. 

Between February 2015 and February 2022, Xiong is accused of devising and executing a fraud scheme to embezzle money – the HOA fees collected from residents – directly from accounts to which she had access. The money was intended to pay for maintenance, construction and other costs incurred by the homeowners associations. 

Xiong would access the HOAs' bank accounts and transfer money electronically directly into her personal bank accounts, court documents allege. She disguised the transfers by mislabeling them to make it look as if they were actual HOA expenses. Xiong also used her signatory authority to make cash withdrawals from the HOAs' accounts. This included making withdrawals after she was fired from her position in July 2021. 

After she was fired from the property management company, she began collecting unemployment insurance funds. She continued to collect these benefits even after finding another job, prosecutors allege.