Alleged fake national security operative, fake presidential staffer arrested for visa fraud

Two persons, Sylvia Naa Dodua Wristberg and Patrick Torto, have been apprehended and arraigned at an Accra Circuit Court on charges of defrauding a man of GH¢32,000.

They were said to have claimed that the amount was to help secure a visa for the man’s wife.

The accused persons allegedly posed as national security operative and a presidential staffer, respectively, when the victim applied for his wife to accompany him to a nurses’ conference in Canada.

Corporal Rachel Saim, the investigator, said that the accused persons were also wanted by the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for similar fraudulent activities.

Sylvia, the first accused, appeared in the court presided over by Afia Owusua Appiah on June 9, 2023 and pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit and committing the crime of defrauding by false pretence.

The court granted her bail in the amount of GH¢100,000, requiring two sureties, one of whom must own a landed property. The case was adjourned to July 12, 2023, to allow the prosecution to prepare its disclosures.

Facts

Chief Inspector Samuel Ahiabor, the prosecutor, who presented the details of the case in court, said the complainant, Dominic Acquah, is an X-Ray Technician residing in Agona-Nkwanta in the Western Region, while the first accused, Sylvia, is an unemployed resident of Cape Coast in the Central Region.

According to the prosecutor, in April 2023, the complainant applied to attend an international congress for nurses through an acquaintance, who submitted his documents to Kenpong Travel & Tours for biometric enrolment and an appointment date at the Canadian Embassy in Accra.

Chief Inspector Ahiabor said in the same month, the complainant received a phone call from the second accused, Torto, who introduced himself as the protocol officer of the Presidential Office of Ghana-Annex at Ridge, Accra, and as a national security operative.

Torto mentioned Sylvia, the first accused, as his immediate supervisor, claiming that she was an aide to the First Lady.

“He assured the complainant that they could use the President’s letterhead to secure a visa for his wife.”

The prosecutor explained that Torto invited the complainant and his wife to the Presidential Office at Ridge, Accra, where they had a meeting at the car park.

Torto, promising to facilitate the visa processing, accompanied the complainant to Kenpong Travel & Tours, collected all his documents, and took his wife’s passport.

Chief Inspector Ahiabor added that Torto demanded GH¢20,000 as payment to secure the visa. The complainant paid GH¢10,000 through a mobile money number registered in the name of the first accused, Sylvia. The total sum of Gh¢32,000 was demanded and paid by the complainant through the same mobile money number on several occasions.

The prosecutor said in order to appear credible, the accused persons purchased round-trip flight tickets from Accra to Takoradi, to enable the complainant and his wife to gain travel experience.

Chief Inspector Ahiabor said on May 20, 2023, when the complainant was asked to come to Accra for the visa, the accused persons could not be reached. The complainant visited the office only to discover that their identities were fake.

The prosecutor said on May 31, 2023, the first accused, Sylvia, was arrested in Cape Coast by personnel from the Ministry of National Security, Accra, based on intelligence.

The complainant identified Sylvia as one of the perpetrators. Although the second accused, Torto, managed to escape, efforts were underway to apprehend him.

Source: graphic.com.gh