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03.03.2005 Crime & Punishment

Pastor busted for visa fraud

By Chronicle

THE ODORKOR POLICE has busted a notorious visa fraudster, Reverend Apostle Ampofo Twumasi Ankrah of Repentance Church for allegedly defrauding over 98 people at Dormaa Ahinkro in the Brong Ahafo Region. It is alleged that after he had been granted bail in Tarkwa for defrauding 150 people with the pretext that he would secure them visa to Korea, he went to Dormaa Ahinkro and used similar tactics to defraud over 98 people of an amount to the tune of millions of cedis.

As the majority of the victims were still struggling to earn a living, the apostle was said to be fattened on over the millions of money, which he took from the people.

Narrating the deal to The Chronicle, the spokesperson of the complainants, Kwasi Amakye said around December, they heard an announcement on a popular FM station in the town called Gift FM, that Rev Ampofo Ankrah had advertised that he needed people to assist them travel to Korea.

After the advert, a number of the residents who were interested in the trip, rushed to the pastor's abode to register for the trip.

He said when they got to his house in the town, he explained to them that besides his pastoral profession, he operates a non-governmental organization that assists people to go overseas and work for a better living.

According to Amakye, he further told them that the recent deal was that, a company based in Korea, Sang Yong Cement Company had indicated to him that they needed some Ghanaians to work for them because of the hard working nature of Ghanaians.

He said the apostle emphasized that Sang Yong Company was earnestly looking for mostly teachers, carpenters, masons and drivers.

Apostle Ankrah told the complainants that the country was visa free and the company was responsible for their tickets, however all that was neended from them was to pay a registration fee of ¢2.5 million for applicants with no passports whiles applicants with passports were supposed to pay ¢1.5million.

Chronicle's independent investigations revealed that most of the people who wanted to make the trip, had to sell their movable and immovable properties to meet the financial requirement by pastor.

Some even went to the extent of borrowing from their banks and private landing company, all for the trip.

Amakye said initially, the apostle had indicated to them that he needed only 45 people to register but before they realized, he had register over 98 applicants.

When all was set for departure on January 10 this year, the pastor started playing hide and seek on the grounds that because of the Moslems' Hajj, the flight supposed to come for them was full.

Amakye stressed that when they were pressing him to take them to Korea, he informed them that those of the applicants who could not afford to wait for the flight, could pay additional $700 to be used in buying their own tickets.

Seven of them quickly paid the amount but he failed to provide them the tickets as promised.

According to Amakye, Apostle Ampofo Ankrah eventually took them to his house at Sowutuom, a suburb of Accra and abandoned them there.

He said they laid ambush and captured him somewhere at Awoshie and subsequently handed him over to the police.

When The Chronicle contacted the Odorkor Police, they confirmed that the suspect was in police custody, pending investigations.

They noted that only 35 people had written police statements and indicated that the total sum of amounts reported by the complainants was ¢67,790,000m.

They said the police have remanded the suspect to enable other victims to come and make complaints against him for additional evidence.

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