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Woman faked robberies to obtain visas

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An Eden Prairie woman has pleaded guilty to charging immigrants money to fake armed robberies against them in a ploy to obtain temporary visas granted for crime victims.

The Star Tribune reports Yuridia Hernandez Linares, 36, pleaded guilty Monday in Hennepin County District Court to one count of theft by swindle for the 2019 incidents.

Court records show four victims from 2019 told police they paid Hernandez Linares a total of $5,000 to stage the robberies and worked with her to file false police reports.

A man and a woman told police that on Aug. 20 they were on a trail near Bay Point Lake Apartments when two men approached them and brandished a knife. The woman reported being grabbed by the neck and robbed of her purse. The man reported that his wallet was stolen. Both reported being cut with a knife.

Later that month, two women told police they were going to visit Hernandez Linares when two men stole their purses and cut them with a knife.

Police investigating the claims discovered that Hernandez Linares and her friend had reported being victims of an identical attack in 2015, which resulted in Hernandez Linares being granted a U visa.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says such visas are “set aside for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement.”

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