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.
Till it was shut down, the sham embassy was housed in a rundown, pink two-storey constructing with a corrugated iron roof and flew an American flag exterior. Inside hung a portrait of the US president, Barack Obama.
“It was not operated by america authorities, however by figures from each Ghanaian and Turkish organised crime rings and a Ghanaian legal professional practising immigration and legal legislation,” the State Division stated in an announcement.
Turkish residents who spoke English and Dutch posed as consular officers and staffed the operation. Investigations additionally uncovered a faux Dutch embassy, the State Division stated
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Officers within the Netherlands weren’t instantly reachable for touch upon Sunday.
The crime ring issued fraudulently obtained however authentic US visas and false identification paperwork, together with start certificates at a value of $6,000 (£4,700) every, the assertion stated.
Throughout raids that led to plenty of arrests, authorities additionally seized genuine and counterfeit Indian, South African and Schengen zone visas and 150 passports from 10 totally different international locations together with a laptop computer and smartphones
The assertion didn’t say how the gang obtained the genuine visas or how many individuals had been believed to have illegally entered the US and different international locations utilizing visas issued by the crime ring.
“The criminals working the operation had been in a position to repay corrupt officers to look the opposite method, in addition to receive authentic clean paperwork to be doctored,” the assertion stated.
There was no fast remark from Ghana’s Prison Investigations Division.
Visas for western international locations are in excessive demand in Africa and embassies say the visa market is a giant goal for organised crime.
The actual US embassy in Ghana is a outstanding and closely fortified complicated in Cantonments, one of many capital’s most costly neighbourhoods. Strains of individuals queue exterior every day for visa appointments and different consular enterprise
The faux embassy was open three mornings per week and didn’t settle for walk-in appointments. As a substitute, the criminals marketed on billboards in Ghana, Togo and Ivory Coast and introduced purchasers from throughout west Africa to Accra the place they rented them lodge rooms in close by accommodations.
US authorities conducting a broader safety operation had been tipped off about it and assembled a staff together with the Ghana Detectives Bureau and police in addition to different worldwide companions to close down the ring.
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