Washington – A decade after pretending to be a U.S embassy, authorities in Ghana have busted the fake facility in the capital Accra run by a criminal network that issued illegally-obtained authentic visas.
“It was not operated by the United States government, but by figures from both Ghanaian and Turkish organized crime rings and a Ghanaian attorney practicing immigration and criminal law,” the State Department said in a statement.
The crime ring issued fraudulently obtained but legitimate U.S. visas and false identification documents, including birth certificates at a cost of $6,000 each, the statement said.
U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said no one was believed to have entered the United States with one of the fake visas, which were reproductions based on genuine travel documents the con-men had obtained.
“This fake embassy made and printed counterfeit visas using expired visas as a blueprint,” Toner said.
He added that it’s very, very hard to counterfeit U.S. visas these days, “and so this operation failed.”
An informant in the case tipped off authorities to a fake Dutch embassy also operating in the Ghanaian capital.
“It’s still being investigated and we are awaiting the outcome,” Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry spokeswoman Daphne Kerremans told AFP.