4 Indians indicted in US for U-visa fraud

Sunday, 19 May, 2024
Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Chicago: Four Indians are among six people who have been indicted for allegedly staging armed robberies in Chicago and the suburbs so that the purported victims could apply for US immigration visas reserved for certain crime victims.

According to an indictment unsealed in federal court in Chicago this week, Bhikabhai Patel, Nilesh Patel, Ravinaben Patel, and Rajnikumar Patel arranged with Parth Nayi to be “victims” of the staged robberies so that they could submit applications for U nonimmigrant status, or U-visa.

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

Nayi and Kewon Young allegedly organized and participated in staged armed robberies at restaurants, coffee shops, liquor stores, and gas stations in Chicago and the suburbs of Lombard, Elmwood Park, St Charles, Hickory Hills, River Grove, Lake Villa, and South Holland, as well as restaurants in Rayne, and Belvidere.

The indictment said that individuals paid Nayi thousands of dollars to participate in the scam, a statement released by the US Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois, said.

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.  

Thereafter, as further alleged by the indictment, 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.

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

While all six of them -- between the age groups of 23 to 51 -- have been 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.