OC woman who ran "maternity tourism" business pleads guilty to immigration and visa fraud

IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- An Irvine businesswoman who charged Chinese clients tens of thousands of dollars to help them give birth in the United States so their children would be U.S. citizens has pleaded guilty to immigration and visa fraud.

Prosecutors say Dongyuan Li was among 19 people charged with operating a so-called "maternity tourism" business.

An indictment says Li used 20 apartments in Irvine to house pregnant clients who were coached on how to lie on visa applications, hide their pregnancies during customs checks and pass U.S. consulate interviews in China.

One location was a luxury apartment complex in Irvine called The Carlyle at Colton Plaza. A court affidavit says the The Carlyle uses yyusa.com to advertise. The Chinese title of the site translates to "you win vacation services."

Authorities say pregnant Chinese women pay the businesses anywhere from $40,000 to $80,000 for housing, food, transportation, medical services and fraudulent visas.

The women are allowed to travel to the U.S. while pregnant, federal officials say, but they cannot lie about the purpose of their trip when seeking a visa.

An affidavit estimates that since 2013, 400 babies born at just one Orange County hospital have been linked to the scam.
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