Six Arrested in Chicago for Staging Sham Robberies to Aid Immigration Visa Requests

Retired schoolteacher Tom Wingo of Samaritans Without Borders, right, gives snacks and bot
AP Photo/Matt York

Six people were arrested and are facing fraud charges in Chicago for staging fake street robberies to aid migrants in their quest to get a legal immigration visa approved.

According to a federal indictment, two Ohio residents are accused of staging the robberies so that the migrants could claim to be victims of a crime, which could then be used to help give them a better chance of being approved for asylum, WFLD-TV reported.

Parth Nayi, 26, of Woodridge, and Kewon Young, 31, stand accused of being the ring leaders of the scam robberies and, along with four others, have been charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud, punishable by five years in federal prison. The other four indicted over the scheme include, Bhikhabhai Patel, 51, Nilesh Patel, 32, Ravinaben Patel, 23, and Rajnikumar Patel, 32.

The indictment alleges that Nayi and Young, staged the fake robberies at gas stations, restaurants, liquor stores, and other places in Chicago. The pair are also suspected of staging similar events in the Chicago suburbs of Lombard, Elmwood Park, St. Charles, Hickory Hills, River Grove, Lake Villa, and South Holland, as well as in other states such as Louisiana and Tennessee.

Prosecutors say that after staging the fake robberies, the “victims” would file official police reports. They would then use those reports to file for U nonimmigrant status, which is reserved for victims of crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and have agreed to help U.S. police with their investigations.

Chicago police became suspicious of the robberies when they began to realize that the robberies were highly organized affairs, including multiple stolen getaway cars, but never resulted in much more than $100 in lost property. In addition, credit cards and IDs were never taken and the robbers never tried to carjack the “victims,” as so commonly seen in other Windy City robberies.

According to CWB Chicago, officers caught a break when they nabbed the “robbers” in one incident and found them to be juveniles with very scant criminal records. The minors admitted they were hired to stage a robbery and that the “victims” were in on the scam, and no one was expected to get hurt or lose any valuables. From there, CPD investigators began tracking down those who were paying kids to stage the robberies.

Eventually, officers discovered the “victims” were paying the planners thousands to be “robbed” so they could use the staged incidents to improve their visa status.

While most of the fake robberies were free of any actual violence, one staged event went awry last year and one of the fake robbers hired to rob a migrant accidentally fired the gun he was waiving around, striking a store employee in the abdomen. The employee survived the wound.

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