Chinese woman pleads guilty to running 'birth tourism' scheme

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 19 Sep 2019

A Chinese national pleaded guilty to federal charges of running a "birth tourism" scheme that catered to wealthy Chinese clients, including government officials, who paid large sums of money so their children would be US citizens.

Li Dongyuan, 41, admitted that between 2013 and 2015, her company "You Win USA Vacation Services" assisted foreign nationals who were pregnant to travel to the US and give birth.

The company website advertised that it had catered to more than 500 Chinese birth tourism customers who, according to officials, were housed in 20 apartments in Irvine, south of Los Angeles.

Authorities say Li charged US$40,000 (HK$320,000) to US$80,000 for her services and over two years amassed US$3 million in wire transfers from China.

According to a series of indictments filed earlier this year against Li, customers were coached on how to bypass US immigration control and conceal their pregnancies.

Li admitted to advising customers to book two flights - the first from China to Hawaii, where the women were told to list the Trump International Hotel in Honolulu as their destination, and then take another flight to Los Angeles.

As part of her plea deal, Li agreed to forfeit more than US$850,000, a residence worth more than US$500,000 and several Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

She faces up to 15 years in prison at her sentencing on December 16.

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