A pretend U.S. embassy within the Ghanaian capital of Accra has been issuing counterfeit U.S. visas and false identification paperwork for a few decade, in response to the U.S. State Division.
A recent online story launched by the State Division’s Diplomatic Safety public affairs workplace detailed how this pretend embassy’s lengthy legal historical past lastly ended this previous summer time when the Regional Safety Workplace, in co-operation with Ghanaian authorities, shut down the operation.
The article started circulating extensively over the weekend and a State Division official confirmed the report at present. Division officers insist that — to their information — nobody who obtained a counterfeit visa was capable of enter the U.S.
The constructing that housed the pretend embassy flew the American flag three days of the week and featured a photograph of President Obama inside. Flyers and billboards in Ghana and neighboring Cote d’Ivoire and Togo marketed their fraudulent providers for the price of $6,000.
An investigation discovered that the operation was run by Ghanaian and Turkish organized crime rings, in addition to a Ghanaian lawyer working towards immigration and legal regulation. The State Division stated Turkish residents who spoke English and Dutch posed as “consular officers.”
They paid off corrupt officers when suspicions arose over their unlawful actions. These corrupt officers additionally offered actual financial institution paperwork in order that they might be altered by the criminals.
An informant tipped off the Regional Safety Workplace that a pretend U.S. embassy and a pretend Netherlands embassy have been working in Accra. On the time, diplomatic safety brokers have been wanting right into a separate fraud investigation underneath “Operation Spartan Vanguard,” which works to deal with trafficking and fraud plaguing the U.S. embassy in Ghana and the area extra broadly.
“The investigation recognized the primary architects of the legal operation, and two satellite tv for pc places (a gown store and an condo constructing) used for operations,” the State Division article stated. “The pretend embassy didn’t settle for stroll-in visa appointments; as an alternative, they drove to probably the most distant elements of West Africa to seek out clients. They might shuttle the purchasers to Accra, and lease them a room at a lodge close by. The Ghanaian organized crime ring would shuttle the victims to and from the pretend embassies. Finding the doc vendor inside the group led investigators to uncover the satellite tv for pc places and key gamers.”
A collection of raids led to the arrest of a number of suspects and picked up proof that included a laptop computer, cell telephones, one hundred fifty passports from 10 nations, authentic and counterfeit visas, and counterfeit id paperwork.
The Ghanaian police plan to pursue the arrest of a number of different suspects nonetheless at giant, together with the Turkish organized crime group, in accordance with the State Division article.
State Division spokesman Mark Toner stated throughout in the present day’s information briefing that the division was not conscious of anybody who tried to make use of the counterfeit visas to realize entry into the U.S.
Toner elaborated on how the criminals have been capable of produce fraudulent paperwork, saying they obtained a handful of actual Ghanaian and overseas passports that have been both misplaced, stolen or bought. Fewer than ten of these contained expired U.S. visas, which the criminals then used as fashions for counterfeit U.S. visas.
“The visas in query weren’t stolen from the U.S. embassy,” he stated.
Toner emphasised the problem in producing counterfeit U.S. visas, calling them a “extremely secured doc” with quite a few security measures.
Because of the pretend U.S. embassy raid in Accra, in addition to different raids recognized via Operation Spartan Vanguard, the export of fraudulent paperwork has decreased by 70 % in West Africa, in response to the State Division article. They views these kinds of operations as important to stopping these felony networks who produce passport and visa fraud, including, “That is solely the start.”
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