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Photo of the Fake U.S. Embassy in Ghana that Issued Legitimate Visas for 10 Years

BellaNaija.com

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The Fake U.S. Embassy in Ghana

The Fake U.S. Embassy in Ghana

In a joint operation by the Assistant Regional Security Officer Investigator (ARSO-I) at the real U.S. Embassy in Accra, the Ghana Police Force, Ghana Detectives Bureau, and other international partners, a fake U.S. Embassy which has been issuing legitimate Visas for 10 years was shut down and the criminals arrested.

The criminals running the operation were able to pay off corrupt officials at the real U.S. Embassy to look the other way, as well as obtain legitimate blank documents to be doctored.

This investigation was a small part of the broader “Operation Spartan Vanguard” initiative. “Operation Spartan Vanguard” was developed by Diplomatic Security agents in the Regional Security Office (RSO) at U.S. Embassy Ghana in order to address trafficking and fraud plaguing the U.S. Embassy and the region.

The real U.S. Embassy in Ghana is a prominent and heavily fortified complex in Cantonments, Accra, one of the capital’s most expensive neighbourhoods.

The real U.S. Embassy in Ghana is a prominent and heavily fortified complex in Cantonments, Accra, one of the capital’s most expensive neighbourhoods.

During the course of another fraud investigation in “Operation Spartan Vanguard” an informant tipped off the ARSO-I about the fake U.S. embassy, as well as a fake Netherlands embassy operating in Accra.

After receiving the tip, the ARSO-I, who is the point person in the RSO shop for “Operation Spartan Vanguard” investigations, verified the information with partners within the Ghanaian Police Force. The ARSO-I then created an international task force composed of the aforementioned Ghana Police Force, as well as the Ghana Detective Bureau, Ghana SWAT, and officials from the Canadian Embassy to investigate further.

The investigation identified the main architects of the criminal operation, and two satellite locations (a dress shop and an apartment building) used for operations. The fake embassy did not accept walk-in visa appointments; instead, they drove to the most remote parts of West Africa to find customers. They would shuttle the customers to Accra, and rent them a room at a hotel nearby. The Ghanaian organized crime ring would shuttle the victims to and from the fake embassies. Locating the document vendor within the group led investigators to uncover the satellite locations and key players.

Left: Some of the 150 seized passports collected during the raids. Right: Some of the banking, education, and other identification paperwork seized during the raids. (U.S. Department of State photos)

Left: Some of the 150 seized passports collected during the raids. Right: Some of the banking, education, and other identification paperwork seized during the raids. (U.S. Department of State photos)

The dress shop acted as both a front for the operation— was open to the general public for alterations and the purchase of dresses—as well as housing some of the document production. It was purported to house an industrial sewing machine they would use to re-create the binding on the fake passports.

During the raid on the dress shop the corrupt Ghanaian attorney lied to Ghanaian detectives by telling them they were not allowed to access the shop because it was involved in an additional court case.

The “additional court case” was determined to be fallacious, but it bought enough time for corrupt officials to arrange for bail for members of the organized crime group so that they could move the document production facility outside of Accra. Many of the documents also were exported elsewhere in Africa and to Europe through the dress shop.

Several suspects remain at large, but Ghanaian police have warrants for their arrest and plan to pursue them. The investigation and search for the Turkish organized crime group is ongoing.

After the operation was complete, both Interpol and the Bureau of Consular Affairs were sent the information collected to enter into their databases. At the request of the Ghana Police, DS Computer Forensic Lab will be assisting with forensic evaluation of the computer equipment seized in the operation.

15 Comments

  1. Le coco

    December 6, 2016 at 8:24 am

    But.. like.. How? ????.. In all seriousness America shld strt confessing there is no way that anyone can issue VALID American visas without help from the American government.. u ppl shld start vetting all the employees in the real embassy because someone is clearly helping them out

    • stephanie

      December 6, 2016 at 10:07 am

      Boss read the thing o! it says they were paying officials in the REAL embassy too. What is interesting are the Nigerian passports that are in the picture

    • .....just saying

      December 6, 2016 at 10:51 am

      Those are ECOWAS passports, not Nigerian

    • Le coco

      December 6, 2016 at 11:12 am

      Nice try @stephanie..

    • Sherlie Holmes

      December 6, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      I think they mentioned that ppl from the real embassy were receiving kickbacks to turn the other cheek. Amazing how this was going on! #utterlyshocked

  2. EC

    December 6, 2016 at 9:16 am

    hahahaha. desperate times o. a whole 10 years. So you mean our neighbors entered this building and thought hmm seems legit. lmao. They knew!

  3. GIDIBASE.COM

    December 6, 2016 at 9:20 am

    This is funny tho .. Africans and hustle …

    We should just improve our own country mehn

  4. Hector

    December 6, 2016 at 10:42 am

    I dunno if it’s my excessive watching of shows like Homeland and Burn Notice but this smells like a CIA operative. American systems for visas are virtually impenetrable. Which kind crime ring be that? Dem no born dem well. Last last, this place would have been popular with even Nigerians. Maybe this conspiracy theorist in me is just having a field day but that’s what I think sha

    • Sherlie Holmes

      December 6, 2016 at 3:02 pm

      I think I agree with you Hector. I wouldn’t be surprised if they do have a hand in this…too suspicious

  5. nnenne

    December 6, 2016 at 11:39 am

    Ghanaians always act like they have higher moral values over Nigerians. If this happened in Nigeria, Ghanaians will be talking anyhow.

    • Honestina

      December 6, 2016 at 4:07 pm

      Without Ghanaians, others will still talk anyhow about you so dear your problem shouldn’t be with Ghanaians but yourself. BTW, we are focused on our election so no one has the time to be talking about you

    • Miss_nk

      December 6, 2016 at 9:18 pm

      But you’re on a Nigerian website? Get over yourself

    • Honestina

      December 7, 2016 at 12:14 am

      @ miss….yes and I’m responding to a news item about Ghana which you are interested in.

  6. o

    December 6, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    While Nigerians were priding over jollof rice, some Ghanians were busy issuing original but illegitimate US visas without noise?? #asseenonbbm

  7. OA

    December 6, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    Meanwhile we thought Oluwole in Lagos Island was the ultimate. Real visa in a fake embassy? I hope those network stations in America go there to do their own investigative journalism too oh. After they featured ordinary Oluwole. This wan na real big news. The thing wey go pain plenty people pass na the missed opportunity. Some people would have known about it but refused to partake thinking the visas were fake when they were really bona fide.

    So I guess what was happening was that the “ogas at the top” in the embassy were splitting the quota for visa allotments at the American Embassy in Accra by diverting some issuances to the fake embassy and making a killing out of that side gig!

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