Fake Theft Ring Staged Armed Robberies To Help Victims Get Immigration Visas

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A group of scammers trying to work the U.S. immigration system were nabbed for orchestrating a series of fake armed robberies in Chicago.

Six accused of staging armed robberies in visa scam

Six men are accused of committing the crimes in an effort to help the purported victims obtain emergency immigration visas that are set aside for people who are actually preyed upon by criminals.

On Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois identified Parth Nayi, 26, from Woodridge, Illinois, and Kewon Young, 31, from Mansfield, Ohio, as the two of the scammers allegedly responsible for planning and executing the fake robberies.

“At the direction of Nayi and Young, the individuals acting as robbers, on certain occasions, struck purported victims to make the staged robbery appear real,” the criminal complaint stated.

Authorities claimed the fraudulent criminal activities took place at various service-based establishments, including restaurants, coffee shops, liquor stores, and gas stations in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Similar incidents also reportedly occurred at restaurants in Rayne, Louisiana, and Belvidere, Tennessee.

One of the staged crimes, which nearly turned tragic, happened in July 2023 at Bucktown Food & Liquor in Chicago. According to prosecutors, a clerk was shot during the fake armed robbery, but survived the incident.

The supposed victims were identified as Bhikhabhai Patel, 51, from Elizabethtown, Kentucky; Nilesh Patel, 32, from Jackson, Tennessee; Ravinaben Patel, 23, from Racine, Wisconsin; and Rajnikumar Patel, 32, from Jacksonville, Florida.

According to prosecutors the four men paid Nayi thousands of dollars to stage the robberies, enabling them to apply for U nonimmigrant status, commonly known as U-visas.

U-visas are specifically allocated for victims of specific crimes who have endured mental or physical abuse, and cooperated with law enforcement’s investigation and/or prosecution of their attackers.

The visa allows these victims to be prioritized for obtaining temporary legal status for three years, during which they often become eligible for green cards.

The visas aim to prevent the deportation of illegal immigrants who report crimes or are involved in criminal trials.

The six men involved in the choreographed crimes face charges of conspiracy to commit visa fraud. Only one of them faces an additional charge of making a false statement in a visa application.

Man who staged armed robberies for fake visas fatally shot

Earlier this year in Houston, a similar U-visa scam had a fatal outcome when a bystander intervened to protect the alleged victims.

In January, a gas station robbery, which ended with a witness shooting and killing the robber, was actually a plot between the gunman and the victims to secure temporary immigration status.

According to court documents, 22-year-old Rasshauud Scott planned the fake robbery with his accomplice William Winfrey.

Authorities stated that Scott and Winfrey had staged similar robberies since 2023, with the most recent occurring the night before Scott was killed.

On January 27, Scott fake robbed two people at a Houston gas station, but the false crime took a fatal turn when a bystander reportedly shot Scott.

The shooter, Jesus Vargas, fled from the crime scene after Scott was shot and killed, because he was violating his parole by possessing a firearm.

ABC 13 spoke with one of the two “victims” allegedly involved in the staged crime. He denied the robbery had been fake, but admitted to applying for a U-visa “after three or four months.”

According to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, there were 334,000 cases of U-visa petitions between 2009 and 2022.

The U-Visa program was created in 2000, and despite Congress’s annual cap of 10,000 visas a year, immigrants are incentivized to apply, because while they are on the waiting list, immigrant become eligible to obtain a work permit while their case is pending.

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