Mission improbable

A fake American embassy operated in the Ghanian capital of Accara for a decade

A street vendor places his national flag next to an American one in Accra. The US authorities have recently shut down a fake US embassy in the Ghanian capital. Kambou Sia / AFP
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It is hard to believe in this age of sophisticated global intelligence that a fake government office could thrive for a decade unhindered. That’s what has happened in Ghana, where an office purporting to be the embassy of the United States has been shut down after 10 years of operation.

The bizarre enterprise operated in the capital of Accra, where the real US embassy is located. The fake mission flew an American flag outside on the three days a week it was open. Inside there was photograph of President Barack Obama and staff posing as consular officials took visa applications from unsuspecting clients. The office issued fake passports, visas and other documents, charging about $6,000 (Dh22,000) for their services.

The question is how could this business – along with a fake Dutch embassy that also operated in Accra – survive for so long without being noticed by the authorities? And did the fake documents actually work, or did nobody bother to lodge a complaint when they didn’t?