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Archive for Ghana

Newsline: The true story of the fake US embassy in Ghana

On Friday 2 December 2016, a curious story appeared on the website GhanaBusinessNews.com. “Ghana security authorities shut down fake US Embassy in Accra,” the headline declared. For a decade, the story went, there had been a fake US embassy in the Ghanaian capital. The fraudsters behind it had flown the American flag from their building and even hung a portrait of Barack Obama on the wall. The criminal network behind the scam had advertised on billboards and prowled the most remote villages of west Africa, searching for gullible customers. They brought them to Accra, and sold them visas for as much as $6,000. According to a US state department statement, which had been published in early November, the fake embassy was operated by “figures from both Ghanaian and Turkish organized crime rings and a Ghanaian attorney practicing immigration and criminal law”. The American authorities supplied a picture of an old, two-storey pink building with a tin roof, originally captioned: “The exterior of the fake embassy in Accra, Ghana.” The caption was later changed to: “One of several buildings used by the disrupted fraud ring.” Reuters reported that the Americans, with the help of the Ghana Detectives Bureau, had raided the fake embassy. Several people were arrested, and officials seized 150 passports from 10 different countries. The US state department said, the number of fraudulent documents coming from west Africa had gone down by 70% as a result of this and other raids, and “criminal leaders no longer have the political cover they once had”. But the story was fake. It might have started with a diplomatic cable – a classified memo – sent from the US embassy in Accra to the state department in Washington DC on 25 July 2016, titled “Ghana: Fake US Embassy Closed for Business.” When I asked the US state department for comment, an official simply told me that US Diplomatic Security Service officials work with Ghanaian authorities to uphold the integrity of the visa system. The state department declined to provide additional information in response to specific questions.



Newsline: Fake U.S. Embassy in Ghana Issued Real Visas for a Decade

For ten years, a U.S. embassy operated quietly in Accra, the capital of the West African country of Ghana. The facility’s work was discreet because it was run by a criminal network of Ghanaian and Turkish citizens. The embassy wasn’t an embassy at all, but it managed to issue authentic, fraudulently obtained visas and other U.S. documents for a decade. The hitch is that these were in fact authentic documents and were issued by Turkish forgers for an average price of $6,000. The Department of State has not explained how the gang obtained genuine US visas.


Newsline: State Department says no visas from fake American embassy in Ghana used to enter US

None of the altered visas issued at a fake U.S. embassy in West Africa for seven years appears to have been used to enter the United States, the State Department said. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the visas were created from bought, stolen or otherwise illegally obtained passports. U.S. officials this summer discovered and shuttered the fake embassy in Accra, Ghana. However, news reports about the criminal operation began to appear only in the past several weeks, following a Nov. 2 posting on the State Department’s website. The embassy building flew a U.S. flag every morning for three days a week, and inside the building was a picture of President Obama.



Newsline: Ghana security authorities shut down fake US Embassy in Accra

A fake US Embassy which has been operating in Ghana for about 10 years has finally been discovered and shut down. It is not clear exactly when that happened, but a joint task force of both Ghanaian and foreign security operatives shut down the fake Embassy operating somewhere in the capital, Accra, according to information published on December 2, 2016 on the website of the US Department of State. Members of an organized crime gang made up of Turkish and Ghanaian citizens operated the fake Embassy in Accra where they flew the American flag on the building every Monday, Tuesday, and Friday from 7:30am to 12 noon and issued fraudulently obtained, legitimate US visas, counterfeit visas, false identification documents (including bank records, education records, birth certificates, and others) for a cost of $6,000. According to the Department of State, the suspects hanged a photo of President Barack Obama on the wall of the room and targeted mainly citizens of Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Togo. That the scam operation didn’t accept walk-in services, but instead they went to the remote parts of West Africa to find customers that they brought to Accra and put in a nearby hotel. During the raid, several suspects were arrested and evidence collected included a laptop computer; smartphones; 150 passports from 10 countries; legitimate and counterfeit visas from the US, the Schengen zone, India, and South Africa; and counterfeit identity documents. While the information did not identify any of the suspects by name, it indicated that a Ghanaian immigration lawyer working with corrupt Ghana law enforcement officers were part of the scam.



Newsline: Bomb defused outside Ghana Embassy in Egypt

Explosive experts in Egypt Sunday defused a bomb that had been planted outside the Embassy of Ghana located in the district of Mohandessin, west of Cairo. According to the Egypt Independent, the explosive experts, notably called the bomb squad, were notified by civilians in the area. No group has claimed responsibility for the attempted bomb attack.



Newsline: Diplomats rush to visit death row inmates in Indonesia

Diplomats scrambled Friday to visit their citizens on death row in Indonesia as authorities made final preparations to haul several foreign drug convicts in front of the firing squad. Indonesia has advised consular officials to go to Nusakambangan — the high-security prison island where executions are carried out — this weekend. Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipino maid, was transferred Friday to Nusakambangan, where she joined death row inmates from Australia, Brazil, France, Nigeria and Ghana. “Indonesian government has ordered all prisoners up for execution with or without pending appeals to be transferred to the island including Mary Jane Veloso,” Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose said. The embassies have not been informed of when the group will be executed, with 72-hours notice required by law. Australia, which has two drug traffickers on death row, said it was “gravely concerned” at reports that Indonesia’s attorney-general was pressing ahead with the executions. “Australian officials are planning to attend a meeting with Indonesian counterparts in the near future,” Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs told AFP in a statement Friday morning. France on Thursday accused Indonesia of “serious dysfunction” in its legal system that led to Frenchman Serge Atlaoui being sentenced to death, and said his execution would be “incomprehensible”. A lawyer for Brazilian inmate Rodrigo Gularte told AFP that consular and legal teams for the condemned inmates were heading to Cilacap, the port town nearest the prison island, as soon as possible.



Newsline: Thieves Break Into Ghana’s Embassy In Senegal

Thieves have raided the Ghana Embassy in Dakar, Senegal. The thieves are reported to have scaled the wall and gone through the windows at the Embassy to ransack the place. Authorities of the Embassy and security services in Dakar have begun investigations into the incident. A senior official at the Embassy has also confirmed the incident.