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Last Updated: Friday, 2 June 2006, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Kenya smashes US visa scam ring
US embassy
The US embassy in Nairobi was surrounded by armed police
A visa fraud ring operating around the United States embassy in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, has been broken up, police say.

They said 77 people were arrested when Kenyan police and the US authorities carried out a joint sting operation.

Officials said the ringleaders paid the winners of a US visa lottery to falsely claim they had dependents who would then be eligible to enter the US.

They said the scam caused financial hardship to many families.

Dozens of heavily armed policemen supported by plain-clothes officers swooped down on the US consular office in the upmarket Gigiri district shortly after the embassy opened for business, reports the AFP news agency.

Officials told AFP that people paid thousands of dollars to those running the scam, to pair them up with the lottery winners.

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