Fake Robberies Allowed Fake Victims to Apply for Visas, Prosecutors Say

At first glance, a series of eight robberies at mini marts and liquor stores in four states seemed like typical crimes. However, F.B.I. agents investigating the incidents noticed patterns that suggested a more complex operation. The robberies, which included one involving a fake gun, turned out to be part of an elaborate visa-fraud scheme. Two suspects, Rambhai Patel and Balwinder Singh, were charged in federal court with conspiracy to commit visa fraud. If convicted, they could each face up to five years in prison. The F.B.I. concluded that the purported victims paid $10,000 each to stage the robberies in exchange for immigration “papers,” while store owners received $1,500 to $2,000 for providing venues for the fake crimes. The case exposes vulnerabilities in a federal program that grants visas to undocumented immigrants who are victims of certain crimes, raising concerns about potential fraud and abuse. The U visa program, designed to aid law enforcement agencies in investigating and prosecuting cases involving domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking, has a backlog of 270,000 applications in 2021. The Biden administration’s effort to expedite temporary work permits for U visa applicants has sparked criticism regarding the program’s management and susceptibility to fraud. The charges related to the robberies were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and the suspects were arrested. The robberies took place in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Lawyers for the suspects were unavailable for comment. The F.B.I.’s investigation revealed connections between the suspects and the victims before the robberies occurred. The agency also discovered immigration-related activity among store employees following their alleged victimization. Additionally, law firms representing most of the victims applied for U visas after the robberies. During the investigation, a suspect’s vehicle was searched, and a firearm covered in black tape was found, though the F.B.I. agent believed it to be fake. To strengthen their case, the F.B.I. enlisted a cooperating witness to introduce an undercover agent to Mr. Patel, who played a role in organizing the staged robberies. In a recorded call, Mr. Patel instructed the agent to show the gun during the robbery and take money from the register.
A series of armed robberies at mini marts and liquor stores in multiple states were discovered to be part of an elaborate visa-fraud scheme. FBI agents investigating the robberies noticed patterns that suggested a more complex operation, including the involvement of fake guns and payments made by victims in exchange for immigration “papers.” Two suspects, Rambhai Patel and Balwinder Singh, were charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud and could face up to five years in prison if convicted. The case exposes vulnerabilities in the U visa program, which grants visas to undocumented immigrants who are victims of certain crimes. The program has a backlog of applications, and critics have warned of potential fraud and abuse. The FBI’s investigation revealed that after most of the robberies, law firms representing the supposed victims applied for U visas. The suspects were arrested and charged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

The article is reproduced from Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Trending

Related Articles