Lily Kuo | Quartz | December 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

A Fake U.S. Embassy Operating in Ghana for the Past Decade Has Been Shut Down

Fake passports confiscated during a raid on a fake US embassy in Accra, Ghana. Fake passports confiscated during a raid on a fake US embassy in Accra, Ghana. State Department photo

For the last decade, a fake US embassy has been operating in Accra, Ghana. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays, from morning until half noon, an American flag would fly outside a faded pink building. Inside, beneath a photo of president Barack Obama, staff posing as consular officials, took visa applications from unsuspecting Ghanians and other West Africans. The office also issued fake passports, visas, and other documents for about $6,000 a service.

The operation has now been shut down, according to the US state department. Staff at the real US embassy in Accra, after getting a tip about the fraudulent embassy, raided the operation this summer with the help of Ghanaian security. Authorities recovered 150 passports, as well as fake visas for the US, the EU’s Schengen zone, India, and South Africa. Three men were arrested, according to Ghanaian police.

The exterior of a now-closed building in Accra that purported to be a US embassy. (State Department)

The faux embassy is part of a larger problem of travel document fraud in the region, fueled in large part by the difficulty of getting travel visas as an African. In January, another group of men, who recruited customers from foreign embassies after they had been refused a visa, was also arrested. They were found with 190 passports, according to local media.

Visa paperwork seized during a raid on a fake US embassy operating in Accra. (State Department)

In response, the US embassy in Ghana has launched a campaign, “Operation Spartan Vanguard,” to shut down other fraudulent operations. A fake Dutch embassy has also been operating in the city, according to the state department.

According to the state department, the scheme was run by Turkish and Ghanians syndicates with the help of some Ghanaian officials. The operation in Accra was done with the tacit approval of officials, openly advertising its services on flyers and billboards throughout the country. Two satellite locations, a dress shop and an apartment, were also used. The dress shop, which did sell dresses as well as make alterations, used its industrial sewing machine for the binding of fake passports.

“The investigation and search for the Turkish organized crime group is ongoing,” the embassy said in an article about the case. “Criminal leaders no longer have the political cover they once had… this is only the beginning.”


Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.