News Brief
Photo of fake embassy provided by US embassy that is, it turns out, fake

Turns Out the Story About the Fake American Embassy in Accra Was Also Fake

Fake fake fake fake fake

Something really strange is going on at the US Embassy in Accra.


Almost exactly a year ago a story broke about a fake American embassy in Accra scamming honest Ghanaians as they attempted to get visas. According to Ghana Business News:

Members of an organized crime gang made up of Turkish and Ghanaian citizens operated the fake Embassy in Accra where they flew the American flag on the building every Monday, Tuesday, and Friday from 7:30am to 12 noon and issued fraudulently obtained, legitimate US visas, counterfeit visas, false identification documents (including bank records, education records, birth certificates, and others) for a cost of $6,000.

Soon the story spread to international sources like Al Jazeera, the Washington Post and Reuters. As more outlets covered it, the more true it became—a side effect of the aggregation news economy.

After an incredibly thorough investigation, Guardian reporter, Yepoka Yeebo has discovered somewhat disturbingly that the story had been almost completely fabricated. The culprit, it turns out, was someone or some entity within the US Embassy itself. Why is not clear but the piece is a lesson in how simple shoe-leather reporting can unravel even the most established of internet facts.

But why? Unsurprisingly the US Embassy isn't very forthcoming about why they would fabricate such a story. Maybe, as they claim, it's just a matter of a few crossed wires—a story about a fake visa ring synthesized with embassy rumors makes it onto the embassy website and the story spreads from there.

But the story seems too complicated to be a simple accident.

According to Reuters:

Turkish citizens, who spoke English and Dutch, posed as consular officers and staffed the operation. Investigations also uncovered a fake Dutch embassy, the State Department said.

Conspiratorial minds will say there's no way this is an accident. When Yeebo visits the building from the article's picture a pink house said to be the fake embassy, the inhabitants, normal people, tell her they were puzzled too.

Kwetey first saw the fake embassy story when someone sent him a link via WhatsApp. He was totally baffled. "If I'm doing such illegal business, you'll see my Range Rover parked in front," he joked.

But it's the Ghanaian police who provide Yeebo the clues she needs to piece together the reals story, providing details from various cases they'd worked that somehow turned into the story peddled by the US Embassy. Turns out visa scams are a real issue in Ghana, but more often than not the people buying the visas are aware they are counterfeit.

The lesson here is one many already know well, that stories emanating from the continent—especially ones that fit established narratives of Africanness, in this case scamming—don't need proper fact checking. It's the weird news section.

Read the original investigative piece at the Guardian for a wealth of information on Ghanaian visa scams and more strange details of the case.

Interview

Interview: Bizzle Osikoya Is the A&R Shaping the Voice of a New Generation

We caught up with the A&R expert and co-founder of The Plug Management to talk about the fast-rising demand for Nigerian music and what it takes to break out as an artist.

The meteoric rise of Nigeria's burgeoning music industry over the last few years is definitely one for the books. From high profile collaborations that have graced international charts to appearances on American late night TV and a Grammy nomination, the Nigerian sound is sitting at the epicenter of a global conversation that the world—including Queen Bey herself —seem to scrabbling to get a piece of the action.

However, way before this global infiltration and westernized conflation of Africa's assortment of genres into one Afrobeats, Bizzle Osikoya was studying Music Business in England and plotting for a way to be a part of what he knew was inevitable. "I remember going to clubs in school and they would always play Jamaican music but rarely Nigerian songs. I knew we made good music here but I knew I couldn't sing. So I was motivated to come back, go behind the scenes, and see how we can make that crossover possible," he tells OkayAfrica.

More than a decade after making the intrepid decision to venture into A&R, helping artists find and develop their sound, Bizzle's creative genius has cascaded across different musical generations, from the piracy rife CD mix era with artists like Naeto C, Wande Coal and Dr. Sid to a streaming era populated with hits from Reekado Banks, Tiwa Savage and Davido.

Following the success of his latest project, Oxlade's Oxygene, we caught up with the A&R expert and co-founder of the Plug Management—a talent management company that has managed Davido, Peruzzi and DJ Obi—to talk about what it takes to break out as an artist, the fast-rising demand for Nigerian music, and how "alté" is not the same thing as alternative music.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

In Photos: 'Covid' is Cape Town's New Informal Settlement for Those Displaced by the Pandemic

Cape Town residents whose livelihoods are impacted by the coronavirus pandemic are building new homes in a place they call 'Covid'.