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08.09.2004 Crime & Punishment

Police Step Up Fight Against Visa Fraud

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The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service is to set up a new unit to combat visa fraud and forgery of documents. The new unit, The Visa and Documentary Unit, has been necessitated by the increasing incidents of visa and documentary fraud. Records at the CID headquaters indicate that between January and June, this year, more than 200 cases of visa fraud were reported to the CID

The records also indicated that the victims of these fraud paid between $3,000 and $10,000 to the fraudsters, while those who paid in cedis paid between ¢40 million and ¢150 million.It also came out that most of the victims of this fraud were mostly illiterates and semi-literates. The perpetrators of the fraud were also found to include professional visa contractors, politicians, bankers, musicians, traditional rulers and some security personnel at the Kotoka International Airport.

The new unit, which has a senior police officer in charge, will investigate all cases of forged visa application forms and other documents submitted to foreign missions to seek any form of assistance.Mr David Asante-Apeatu, Director of CID, explained that the unit would respond adequately to the cases of visa fraud and forgery.

He said the foreign missions in the country had expressed their readiness to support the unit with logistics since they were also worried about the incidents. He said the unit would also deal with persons who would provide wrong information about themselves in their documentation.Mr Asante-Apeatu said the various missions and organisations would be encouraged to refer all cases of visa fraud and forgery to the unit for investigation and prosecution.

He said the unit would also expect members of the public to report such cases to it for investigation while the unit itself would be engaged in intelligence gathering to apprehend perpetrators of such crimes.He,therefore, warned members of the public, particularly the travelling public and visa contractors, who engaged in such deals, to be on the lookout since the long arm of the law would soon catch up with them.

Mr Asante-Apeatu advised prospective visa applicants to endeavour to go to the various embassies and high commissions to collect the list of requirements to follow before filling the visa forms.He said they must also provide appropriate information about themselves since providing wrong information was on offence.

He further advised prospective travellers to stop seeking the assistance of people to acquire visas on their behalf, as most of such people were not staff of the embassies and high commissions and knew next to nothing about visa regimes.