Six, including four Indians, indicted for staging robberies to apply for immigration status


PTI, May 18, 2024, 9:04 AM IST

Washington: Six individuals, including four Indian nationals, were on Friday indicted by a federal court for staging armed robberies in Chicago and the suburbs so that the victims could apply for immigration visas reserved for certain crime victims in the United States.

According to an indictment unsealed in federal court in Chicago, the four individuals Bhikhabhai Patel, Nilesh Patel, Ravinaben Patel and Rajni Kumar Patel, arranged with Parth Nayi and Kewong Young to be “victims” of the staged robberies so that they could submit applications for U nonimmigrant status (“U-visa”).

U-Visa is set aside for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in an investigation or prosecution.

The indictment alleges that the four individuals paid Nayi thousands of dollars to participate in the scam.

During the staged robberies, individuals acting as robbers brandished what appeared to be firearms, approached the purported victims and demanded money and property, the indictment states.

Afterwards, some of the purported victims submitted forms to local law enforcement to obtain certification that they were victims of a qualifying crime and had been or would be helpful in the investigation, the indictment states.

Upon receiving certification, some of the purported victims then submitted fraudulent U-visa applications to US Citizenship and Immigration Services predicated upon their alleged status as a robbery victim, the Department of Justice said in a statement.

Nayi, 26, Young, 31, Bhikhabhai Patel, 51, Nilesh Patel, 32, Ravinaben Patel, 23, and Rajnikumar Patel, 32, are charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud.

Ravinaben Patel is also charged with an individual count of making a false statement in a visa application. The conspiracy charge is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison, while the false statement charge against Ravinaben Patel is punishable by up to ten years, the media release said.

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