Police: Men Stage Fake Robberies In Complex Immigration Scam

Although the Biden administration has been roundly rebuked for its reluctance to enforce various immigration laws, individuals living in the U.S. visa limitations remain constrained by those restrictions.

As a result, some visa holders have gone to extreme — and illegal — lengths in a bid to extend their status, including one scheme authorities in New York City say was being perpetrated across the city throughout most of last year.

The alleged immigration fraud involved fake robberies at businesses where immigrants with visas set to expire were working. Two suspects — 36-year-old Rambhai Patel and 39-year-old Balwinder Singh — are accused of staging these events in order to exploit a loophole in the nation’s immigration laws.

Individuals can apply for a so-called “U visa” if they have been “subjected to mental or physical abuse,” thus allowing them to remain in the country for up to four additional years.

Authorities say Patel and Singh conspired with the owners of convenience stores and other businesses to make it appear as if an armed robbery had occurred, paving the way for the owners to file for a U visa. According to federal prosecutors, “at least eight” of these fraudulent reports had been made since March.

Both men were arrested last month on charges of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and each of the supposed robbery victims were allegedly participants in the scam.

The visa holders allegedly paid Patel to carry out a fake robbery in their respective places of employment and he in turn paid the owners to allow him to stage the act in their shops.

“In the course of the alleged staged robberies, the ‘robber’ would threaten store clerks and/or owners with an apparent firearm before taking cash from the register and fleeing, while the interaction was captured on store surveillance video,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts asserted in a press release. “The clerks and/or owners would then wait five or more minutes until the ‘robber’ had escaped before calling police to report the ‘crime.’”

Police in Queens arrested Singh and he subsequently appeared in federal court for a preliminary hearing.

Patel was tracked down in Seattle, Washington, where he was placed in custody until he can be transported to Boston, Massachusetts, for a future federal court hearing.

If convicted, each suspect could receive a prison sentence of up to five years and receive a $250,000 fine.