U.S. Visa Fraud Ring Raided and Apprehended in Kenya

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The East African region is grappling with rapidly expanding networks of cross-border human trafficking criminals, often in collaboration with government officials.

Previous reports have unveiled how these networks infiltrate Somalia, Somaliland, and Ethiopia, sometimes involving networks based in Europe and Russia that exploit innocent individuals, draining their life savings, and occasionally smuggling individuals with terror links or criminal backgrounds into Western countries.
A recent investigation by Kenya’s KTN News and The Standard Newspaper reveals that this human trafficking network has also extended its reach into Kenyan government agencies. Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Sports were implicated in a visa fraud scheme, leading to the arrest of 12 individuals in June last year, following a tip-off from a whistleblower who later fled the country fearing for his life.
Journalist Francis Odee, who spearheaded the investigation, disclosed that 15 ordinary Kenyans were made to pay between $15,000 to $20,000 by government officials in the two ministries, with promises of securing U.S. visas and Green Cards. These individuals were fraudulently listed as government officials scheduled to travel to New York for the 2023 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), held from July 10-19, 2023.
The HLPF, according to its website, focused on clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), affordable and clean energy (SDG 7), industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), and partnerships for the goals (SDG 17), under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council. However, instead of selecting legitimate government officials, corrupt officials inserted 15 non-official names into the list.
Monica Mumbi Njenga was not a government official but was found to be working at a hair salon outside Nairobi
PHOTO: Monica Mumbi Njenga was not a government official but was found to be working at a hair salon outside Nairobi.
The investigation, supported by documents uncovered by KTN News journalists, revealed that the corrupt officials used a fake company, Diplomatic Executive Service Network (DESNET), supposedly accredited to facilitate diplomatic travels. One document showed DESNET sending a letter to the U.S. Embassy Consular Section in Nairobi on March 11, 2023, requesting a visa for a woman named Monica Mumbi Njenga to attend the ECOSOC Youth Forum.
“Monica Mumbi Njenga was not a government official but was found to be working at a hair salon outside Nairobi,” the report stated. Despite the arrest of 12 people, Monica Mumbi Njenga managed to escape and remains at large.
Officials at the Ministry of Sports did not respond to the findings, but an official at the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a secret recording, admitted to endorsing DESNET without specifically acknowledging any wrongdoing. The investigation found no involvement of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.
This revelation comes amidst a similar fraud scandal within Somali federal government ministries and departments.
The Italian Embassy in Mogadishu recently discovered and rejected a list of 70 individuals seeking Italian visas, falsely claiming to be Somali government officials. All 70 visa applicants had official endorsements signed by the permanent secretary of the Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hamza Haadow, on official ministry letterhead.
These incidents underscore the pervasive nature of visa fraud and human trafficking networks in East Africa, often abetted by corrupt officials, and highlight the urgent need for stronger oversight and accountability in government institutions.
Horn Observer