Fake U.S. embassy in Ghana shut down after issuing visas for decade

Photo credit: Public Domain Pictures

Authorities in Ghana have busted a fake U.S. embassy in the capital Accra, run by a criminal network that had issued visas illegally for one decade, the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

The statement noted that until its shutdown this summer, the sham embassy was housed in a run-down, pink two-storey building with a corrugated iron roof and flew a U.S. flag outside it.

It hung the portrait of U.S. President, Barack Obama, inside it.

The U.S. statement added that “it was not operated by the United States Government, but by figures from both Ghanaian and Turkish organised crime rings and a Ghanaian attorney practicing immigration and criminal law.”

Turkish citizens who spoke English and Dutch posed as consular officers and staffed the operation.

Investigations also uncovered a fake Dutch embassy, the State Department said.

Officials in the Netherlands were not immediately reachable for comment on Sunday.

The crime ring issued fraudulently obtained but legitimate U.S. visas and false identification documents, including birth certificates at a cost of 6,000 dollars each.

During raids that led to a number of arrests, authorities also seized authentic and counterfeit Indian, South African and Schengen Zone visas and 150 passports from 10 different countries, along with a laptop and smart phones.

The U.S. State Department statement, however, did not say how the gang obtained the authentic visas and did not say how many people were believed to have illegally entered the U.S. and other countries using visas issued by the crime ring.

“The criminals running the operation were able to pay off corrupt officials to look the other way, as well as obtain legitimate blank documents to be doctored,” the statement said.

There was no immediate comment from Ghana’s Criminal Investigations Division.

Visas for Western countries are in high demand in Africa and embassies say the visa market is a big target for organised crime.

The real U.S. Embassy in Ghana is a prominent and heavily fortified complex in Cantonments, one of the capital’s most expensive neighbourhoods.

Lines of people queue outside each day for visa appointments and other consular business.

The fake embassy was open three mornings a week and did not accept walk-in appointments, instead, the criminals advertised on billboards in Ghana, Togo and Ivory Coast and brought clients from across West Africa to Accra where they rented them rooms in nearby hotels.

U.S. authorities conducting a broader security operation were tipped off about it and assembled a team, including the Ghana Detectives Bureau and police, as well as other international partners to shut down the ring. (Reuters/NAN)

Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility

 

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.

Donate


NEVER MISS A THING AGAIN! Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

DOWNLOAD THE PREMIUM TIMES MOBILE APP

Now available on

  Premium Times Android mobile applicationPremium Times iOS mobile applicationPremium Times blackberry mobile applicationPremium Times windows mobile application

TEXT AD: To place a text-based advert here. Call Willie - +2347088095401


All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from PREMIUM TIMES.