Faked Robberies Exposed as Part of Visa Fraud Scheme

From an FBI Affidavit in U.S. v. Patel:

A good reminder that any system that provides benefits, however well-intentioned, is likely to exploited by people who aren’t entitled to the benefits. I first focused on that in depth with regard to the Google deindexing system, which I wrote up in my Shenanigans (Internet Takedown Edition), but as the title suggests, there are such shenanigans in many other contexts as well. People who have studied regimes that give religious objectors exemptions from generally applicable laws or job rules have long been concerned about such fraudulent claims; Justice Brennan largely dismissed this worry in his seminal Sherbert v. Verner (1963) opinion, but I think it’s a more serious concern than that opinion suggests.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the benefits programs should be rejected simply because of the risk of fraud. Insurance, for instance, provides ample opportunities and incentives for fraud—and even for murder—and yet we recognize that its benefits outweigh the risks, so that we should maintain the system while investing resources into finding and deterring the fraud. Nonetheless, whenever a system is being designed or evaluated, the risk of cheating has to be seriously considered.