Police say a robbery that occurred at a restaurant in Washinton state last month was a “deliberate hoax” to obtain immigration visas.
The robbery, in which two men allegedly sexually assaulted customers before stealing their jewlery, was reported on Oct. 19 at Bob’s Burgers and Teriyakis in SeaTac. Police said they received a call that “patrons were allegedly tied up, robbed of jewelry and two female members were said to be sexually assaulted.”
“I can confirm to you that it was all a lie,” said King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht during a press conference Monday. “Every employee present that evening, every customer participated in a deliberate hoax.”
“This hoax should be an affront to all of us – especially those real victims of violence and sexual assault that U visas were intended to protect,” she said, according to Fox News.
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The motive: According to Johanknecht, investigators believe the robbery was staged because participants wanted to acquire “non-immigrant U visas,” which “are available to those who are victims of crime and have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and who assist law enforcement in solving that crime.”
She added: “Our detectives believed that participants hoped to avoid deportation [by] applying for and receiving a federal U visa.” The two robbers were described as Samoan males who after committing the “crime” fled in a pickup truck that belonged to one of the “victims,” Johanknecht said.
The revelation: But “fairly early in the investigation,” Johanknecht said, “there were several things that were not making sense.”
“Eventually somebody offered up the true and correct information and then that, of course, made somebody else say, ‘yea, we made it up’,” she went on.
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On Monday, SeaTac Police Capt. Jon Mattsen said the false call wasted a “tremendous amount of resources” from the police department.
“For this elaborate of a hoax to have occurred, and for this many people to have undertaken this event, it shows that there was a lot of planning involved in this, and that there was a lot of active thought put into how this was going to be undertaken,” Mattsen said.
“I don’t recall a time where I’ve seen 10 people band together to form a story and present it to individuals whose very job is to note consistencies and inconsistencies… to flesh out the truth,” Mattsen added. “Never seen this happen in 30 years.”
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