In a recent event, two guys from New York City got arrested for (robbery scam) pretending to rob convenience stores and fast-food spots.
Why? Well, they claimed it was to help the supposed “victims” of these fake robberies apply for special visas to stay in the country. Massachusetts prosecutors spilled the beans on this. The arrested dudes are Rambhai Patel, 36, and Balwinder Singh, 39. They got nabbed on December 13 and are facing charges for planning visa fraud together.
According to the federal folks handling this case, Patel and Singh cooked up at least eight of these staged robberies. Picture this: a pretend “robber” grabs cash from the store’s cash register, all caught on camera, after scaring a store clerk with what looks like a gun.
This whole act started in 2023. In each scenario, the store clerks waited at least five minutes before calling the police after the pretend robbers made their escape. The so-called “victims” paid Patel for his act, and in return, Patel paid the store owners to use their places for these fake robberies. The goal? To help store clerks apply for a special “U visa.” This visa lets people who’ve been mentally or physically hurt and helped law enforcement stay in the country for four years, assisting in prosecuting the bad guys.
Singh got caught in Queens and had to face a judge in Boston federal court. Meanwhile, Singh, nabbed in Seattle, might deal with federal prosecutors in Boston later on, as per the New York Post. If found guilty, these two could end up spending up to five years behind bars and coughing up fines of up to $250,000.
Now, what’s this U visa all about?
According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, it’s a special visa (U nonimmigrant status) for folks who’ve been through certain crimes, suffering mental or physical abuse. These folks need to prove they’ve been helpful to law enforcement or government officials dealing with the crime. Congress set up the U visa in 2000 to tackle crimes like domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of noncitizens, and more. The visa also looks out for victims who’ve been seriously hurt due to a crime and are willing to help law enforcement authorities deal with the crime. The idea is to make sure law enforcement can better assist crime victims.