On Friday, the State Department released new information about a fake U.S. embassy in Ghana that authorities were finally able to shut down over the summer after it spent a decade issuing illegally obtained, yet authentic, visas. Members of Ghanian and Turkish crime rings in the African nation oversaw the corrupt operation which was conducted in a two story building in the city of Accra that flew the American flag on the outside and displayed a portrait of Barack Obama on the inside. The State Department said on Monday that it is “likely” none of the visas that were issued at the fake embassy were able to be used to enter the United States because they were “pretty poor quality.”
A statement released by the State Department on Friday stated that the fraudulent embassy “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 fake embassy was brought to the attention of U.S. authorities after a border security operation received a tip. Police, the Ghana Detectives Bureau, and other international partners joined together to shut down the facility during a raid that uncovered a stockpile of visas and passports from over 10 countries.
The State Department said that the crime leaders “were able to pay off corrupt officials,” to keep their operation quiet and that the consulate fake employees were Turkish citizens who were able to speak English and Dutch. The agency did not reveal how the criminals running the facility were able to obtain the U.S. visas and identification documents themselves. According to reports, the criminals behind the fake embassy sold the various documents for approximately $6,000 a piece.
The fake U.S. embassy was only open for three mornings each week and did not accept walk-ins. To encourage clients to schedule, the crooks advertised on billboards in Ghana, Togo, and the Ivory Coast. Clients came from across West Africa and were issued rooms in hotels near the embassy.