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, “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,” the State Department said in a statement released late on Friday.
The crime ring issued fraudulently obtained but legitimate US visas and false identification documents, including birth certificates at a cost of $6,000 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 smart phones.
The statement did not say how the gang obtained the authentic visas. And the State Department did notsay how many people were believed to have illegally entered theUnited States and other countries using visas issued by the crime ring, which used bribery to operate unhindered.”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.
Visa appointments for Western countries are in high demand in Africa and embassies say the visa market is a big target for organised crime.