Police in Eden Prairie say a series of robberies reported in late August weren't genuine incidents, but rather part of an apparent scam to get nonimmigrant Visas.
Yuridia Linares, 36, of Eden Prairie, has been charged with theft by swindle after allegedly staging robberies on Anderson Lakes Parkway on Oct. 25, 2015, and Aug. 20 and 30, 2019.
Police became suspicious of the robberies reported in August, which saw the victims held up at knifepoint before having their wallets and purses stolen.
That's because they were similar to other robberies that occurred in 2015, after which police received and approved an application for one of the victims to receive a U Visa, which is a nonimmigrant Visa given to cooperating victims of crime.
"The suspects were described similarly, all the victims were undocumented Latinos and all the suspects were armed as knives," the criminal complaint said. "All the wounds were clear superficial cuts of approximately the same length and each victim sustained only one injury."
According to the criminal complaint, Linares was the person referred to as "Judy," whom the victims had been on their way to meet when they were robbed.
Further investigation of the victims' phones determined the victims had been in contact with Linares several times before the robberies, and later admitted they were working with Linares and had made false police reports.
They said Linares had told them she knew how to get them papers by faking an assault, stating she could get them U Visas for $2,000.
One of the victims said Linares had cut them with a box cutter before making the false report. She received $5,000 from four victims in total, and threatened them they would go to jail if they said anything.
"I commend the Eden Prairie Police officers, investigators and all who assisted with these cases, for their hard work and diligence," Eden Prairie police Chief Greg Weber said. "I also want to thank the Eden Prairie community for your trust and patience as we worked through this complicated and sensitive investigation."