US says no counterfeit visas produced at fake US embassy in Ghana used to enter country
WASHINGTONThe United States has stated that no counterfeit visas produced at the fake U.S. embassy in Ghana, run by Ghanaian and Turkish organized crime rings for a decade, was used to enter the country.
“None of the individuals who purchased these counterfeit visas were able to use them to travel to the United States,” said Mark Toner, the deputy spokesperson of the U.S. State Department, said during a daily press briefing on Dec. 5.
“Why is that? Because it’s very, very hard to counterfeit U.S. visas these days. It’s a highly secure document. It’s got numerous security features designed to prevent successful counterfeiting. So this operation failed basically because they couldn’t produce,” Toner added.
The U.S. State Department said in a statement on Dec. 2 that authorities in Ghana busted a fake U.S. embassy in the capital Accra, which operated for a decade and issued illegally obtained authentic visas.
“It was not operated by the U.S., but by figures from both Ghanaian and Turkish organized crime rings and a Ghanaian attorney,” the statement read.
Until it was shut down this summer, the sham embassy was housed in a run-down, pink two-story building with a corrugated iron roof and flew a U.S. flag outside. Inside hung a portrait of U.S. President Barack Obama.
Turkish citizens, who spoke English and Dutch, posed as consular officers and staffed the operation.
Investigations have also uncovered a fake Dutch embassy in Ghana, the State Department said.
“My understanding is that nobody actually even attempted to enter [the U.S.] or was caught at the border,” Toner said, adding that Washington only learned about the fake U.S. embassy in Ghana this year.