An Eden Prairie, Minnesota woman is accused of masterminding a string of fake assaults in a scam aimed at obtaining visas, Star Tribune reports.
Yulia Hernandez Linares, 36, used a box cutter or sharp object and cut four participants who then filed police reports claiming they had been injured during attempted robberies, according to court records. Hernandez Linares told the participants they could obtain a U visa after the fake attack. U visas are issued to crime victims who cooperate with police.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services website, U visas are set aside for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement.
Yulia Hernandez Linares herself had obtained a U visa in 2016 after falsely reporting that she was a crime victim, according to court documents. She was charged last week in Hennepin County District Court with one count of felony theft by swindle, which accuses her of taking money from victims.
Authorities believe she helped perpetrate a similar scam in 2015 where she and a friend reported they had been attacked.
The four involved told police officers they were afraid of Hernandez Lenares and immigration. She had told them if they told anyone, they would all go to jail. They had paid her a total of $5,000, and admitted to the authorities that they worked with her to file false police reports.
Eden Prairie officers investigating the four cases discovered that the circumstances were similar to an October 2015 case in which Hernandez Linares and her friend reported being robbed and cut by two men armed with knives. Hernandez Linares sent a letter to the police department in March 2016 requesting a U visa, which was signed by the police chief, according to the complaint.
“All the wounds were clean superficial cuts of approximately the same length and each victim sustained only one injury,” the charges said. “None of the wounds were puncture wounds.”
Police obtained phone records showing that the participants in the Aug. 20 incident communicated with her several times in the days leading up to and after the attack.
On Tuesday morning Eden Prairie police issued a news release noting that armed robberies reported along Anderson Lakes Parkway, where Hernandez Linares lives, on October 25th 2015; August 20th, 2019; and August 30th, 2019 were not real. Two victims were reported each day.
Hernandez Linares was arrested last week and is now in custody in the Hennepin County Jail.