A fake American embassy in Accra has been shut down after issuing illegally obtained visas for a decade.
Authorities in Ghana busted the embassy which was located in run down building with a U.S. flag flying outside. Inside, a portrait of President Barack Obama was found hanging on a wall.
Authorities says the bogus embassy was operated by criminal gangs who sold 'illegally obtained' authentic visas and advertised its services across Ghana, Ivory Coast and Togo.
"It was not operated by the United States government, but by figures from both Ghanaian and Turkish organised crime rings and a Ghanaian attorney practicing immigration and criminal law," the U.S. State Department said in a statement.
It operated 3 times a week for years serving customers by prior appointment only.
Raids led to several arrests and authorities seized real and counterfeit visas for several countries along with about 150 passports. Visas and other fake documents were sold for $6,000 each the statement said. The State Department said the embassy provided some customers with "fraudulently obtained, legitimate U.S. visas" as well as counterfeit visas, false identification documents including bank records, education records, birth certificates and others.
"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."
The State Department did not say how many fraudulent visas had been sold and did not disclose if they are aware of how many people are living in the U.S. as a result of obtaining the fake documents.