Two New York men have been arrested on charges related to alleged visa fraud.

Representative photo of visa fraud

Two men from New York, Rambhai Patel, 36, and Balwinder Singh, 39, were arrested and charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit visa fraud.

Patel was arrested in Seattle on Dec. 13, 2023 and, following an initial appearance in the Western District of Washington, was ordered detained pending trial.

Singh was arrested in Queens, N.Y. on Dec. 13, 2023 and had his initial appearance in the Eastern District of New York. Singh appeared in federal court in Boston Dec. 28, afternoon. Patel is expected to appear in federal court in Boston at a later date, a December 29, press release from the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusettes, said.

According to the charging documents, starting in March 2023, Patel and his co-conspirators, including at times Singh, set up and carried out staged armed robberies of at least eight convenience/liquor stores and fast-food restaurants across the United States, including at least four in Massachusetts. It is alleged that the purpose of the staged robberies was to allow the clerks present to claim that they were victims of a violent crime on an application for U nonimmigration status (U Visa).

A U Visa is available to victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and who have been helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.

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 clerks and/or owners would then wait five or more minutes until the “robber” had escaped before calling police to report the “crime.”  The “victims” are alleged to have each paid Patel to participate in the scheme. In turn, Patel allegedly paid the store owners for the use of their stores for the staged robbery.

The charge of conspiracy to commit visa fraud provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.



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