Lakeland, Bartow, Tarpon Springs among 30 cities that issued proclamations for fake country
LAKELAND, Fla. - No matter how hard you try, you won't be able to find the country of Kailasa on a map. That's because it doesn't exist.
Despite that, Lakeland as well as dozens of other cities issued proclamations to honor it.
Back in 2021, Lakeland got a request from a man named Swami Nithyanada. He described Kailasa as a small, Hindu country struggling financially and sent emails out to cities across the country asking them to issue a proclamation.
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"It was really bizarre when we got it," Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz told FOX 13.
Despite his reservations, Mutz signed off on it, and the proclamation was written.
"It really was a mistake on my part. I should have dug into it more at the time I received it," he said.
It turns out that the man who sent the email is wanted in India on a warrant for rape and abduction, and the country of Kailasa is non-existent.
Lakeland wasn't alone in being duped. It was among 30 cities that were scammed, including Bartow and Tarpon Springs. Newark, New Jersey even jumped into the abyss with both feet, making Kailasa a "sister city."
Lakeland gets more than 100 requests a year for proclamations, and since the mistake, it has smartened up. After agreeing to the first request for a proclamation, Lakeland got as second and third one. By then, it was clear what was happening.
"At that time, you’re just laughing at what you’re seeing," said Mutz.
The man who sent the requests now apparently is in hiding, and nowhere to be found – just like the country he made up.