Yuridia Linares pleaded guilty last week to running a scam that preyed on undocumented immigrants looking to obtain long-term residence in the United States.
According to charges filed in November, Linares, 36, and a resident of Eden Prairie, convinced immigrants to let her cut them with a box cutter. The people would then falsely report they'd been the victims of an armed robbery, in the hopes of obtaining a "U Visa," which are offered to undocumented immigrants who are cooperating with law enforcement investigating a crime.
Two sets of undocumented immigrants reported similar mugging stories to the Eden Prairie Police Department in late August, and three of the four said they'd been cut during the crime. According to the complaint, two women said they'd been attempting to visit a friend, later determined to be Linares.
The connection was quite a coincidence: It turns out Linares and a friend had reported a similar situation back in 2015, after which Linares was granted a U Visa.
"All the wounds were clean superficial cuts of approximately same length and each victim sustained only one injury," reads the complaint. "None of the wounds were puncture wounds."
A search of phone records found Linares had been in contact with the four people involved prior to their reported muggings. Interviewed by police, the victims said Linares told them she had a connection within the police department to secure U Visas.
Linares charged the four of them a combined $5,000, for which she was charged with theft-by swindle, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. The victims told cops they were "afraid of [Linares]," who they said threatened they'd "all go to jail" if they told anyone about her ruse.
Linares, who has no prior criminal history in Minnesota, is in custody awaiting a sentencing hearing scheduled for January 30.