Fake US embassy in Ghana shut down after 10 years issuing visas
Ghanaian and Turkish crime rings ‘paid corrupt officials to look the other way’ to illegally obtain authentic documents
Authorities in Ghana have busted a fake US embassy in the capital Accra run by a criminal network that for a decade issued illegally obtained authentic visas, the US State Department has said.
Until it was shut down, the sham embassy was housed in a rundown, pink two-storey building with a corrugated iron roof and flew an American flag outside. Inside hung a portrait of the US president, Barack Obama.
“It was not operated by the United States government, but by figures from both Ghanaian and Turkish organised crime rings and a Ghanaian attorney practising immigration and criminal law,” the State Department said in a statement.
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 US visas and false identification documents, including birth certificates at a cost of $6,000 (£4,700) each, the statement said.
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 smartphones.