The African country of Ghana is known for being poor and remote. Although there is a real United States embassy in the country’s capital “Accra,” most travelers aren’t familiar with it. That is why multiple organized crime rings had been established which managed a fake U.S. embassy in Accra. This fake embassy was set up with a portrait of President Barack Obama on the wall and an American flag on the outside just to make it look real.
What these scammers would do is lure customers into their fake embassy in order to sell them U.S. visas. Since these customers had never been to the real U.S. embassy, they didn’t think to question the shady appearance of the fake embassy’s structure on the outside. Both the real and fake embassies are in Accra, but they are in totally different neighborhoods. The real U.S. embassy is a large three story building that is landscaped and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The fake U.S. embassy has a rusty pinkish color on the outside of a rundown building that has hardly been renovated. But since a lot of Ghana has poor-looking buildings, customers likely didn’t think the poor look of the embassy was anything unusual.
The fake embassy didn’t issue visas to walk-in customers. The scammers actually drove to remote areas of western Africa to pick up customers who they knew would never know what the real embassy looked like. Then they’d take them back to Accra, set them up at a hotel and then sell them a bogus U.S. visa for around $6,000.
This fake embassy had been in operation for 10 years. The U.S. State Department said that the suspects running this operation had paid off corrupt local officials, which is why they were able to get away with it for so long. Raids were eventually done on the embassy and numerous suspects have been arrested in relation to these criminal activities. However, the State Department warns that additional suspects are still at large.