A fake US Embassy operated by organized crime gangs has been shut down in Ghana’s capital city Accra after a decade of operations, issuing counterfeit US visas.
The US Department of State revealed in a statement that the sham embassy was run by Ghanaian and Turkish criminals as well as a Ghanaian lawyer, specializing in immigration and criminal law.
The bizarre enterprise operated for around 10 years at a private house in Accra, a city where a real American embassy is also located.
The fake embassy is said to fly an American flag outside the building three days a week and hung a photo of President Barack Obama inside while it issued fraudulent visas at a cost of $6,000 to clients.
The fake embassy advertised its services through flyers and billboards in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Togo. Customers were driven in from some of the most remote parts of West Africa and put up in a hotel during their visit to the fake embassy.
In addition to visas, fake bank records, education records and birth certificates were also issued by the “consular officers,” who were English- and Dutch-speaking Turkish citizens. The operation ran without interruption due to the co-operation of corrupt officials and the ability to obtain legitimate blank documents to be doctored, according to the State Department.
The US Embassy in Ghana was tipped off to the fake embassy during a wider investigation aimed at tackling trafficking and fraud. They were also alerted to a fake Netherlands embassy operating in Accra.
An international task force made up of the Ghana Police Force, the Ghana Detective Bureau, Ghana SWAT, and officials from the Canadian Embassy then joined the investigation and conducted raids resulting in several arrests.
By Kwame Appiah with US State Department information