By Madeleine Hillyer, International News Editor
Recently, a fake US embassy was found operating in the heart of downtown Accra, Ghana. The embassy had been issuing effective counterfeit visas for many years selling them to applicants for $6,000 each. US State Department officials have not said how many people entered the United States using the fake documents nor how many of these documents were issued, according to BBC.
The embassy was caught and shut down based on a tip the State Department received this summer. Investigations began immediately and US officials quickly moved to have the operation shut down.
A Dutch embassy was also found to be operated by the crime rings, according to CNN. When officials raided the embassy they found US and Dutch visas and passports, along with visas from eight other countries. Official papers ready to be doctored were also found.
As reported by CNN, it is suspected the fake embassy was run by Ghanaian and Turkish crime rings. The embassy was only open three days a week for limited hours; they only took clients who had already made appointments with them, presumably to avoid law enforcement or other officials from entering their establishment. Advertisements for the embassy went up through billboards and fliers put up by the crime rings throughout Accra.
In the statement released by the State Department, officials say the fake embassy was able to stay open so long because, “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,” as reported by CNBC.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 10th print edition.
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