Major Metro Fooled in Sister City Scam - Would You Have Been Fooled by Something So Obvious?
In its dash in the fast lane to embrace diversity, the city of Newark, New Jersey, drove into a pothole.
On Jan. 12, Newark officials signed a “sister city” agreement with the United States of Kailasa that was going to support trade and other activities that would allow Newark to cite a connection with a Hindu nation.
“I pray that our relationship helps us to understand cultural, social and political development and improves the lives of everybody in both places that helps us to understand where we are and who we are and our connectivity to one another and helps us to become better people in this process, better people individually and as cities and nations,” Mayor Ras Baraka said then, according to the website Tap Into Newark.
The United States of KAILASA and the City of Newark, New Jersey, USA signing ceremony of the protocol bilateral agreement at the City Hall of Newark with Her Excellency Vijayapriya Nithyananda, KAILASA’s Permanent Ambassador to the UN, Honorable Mayor Baraka, pic.twitter.com/6JVhlL7xNI
— KAILASA’s SPH Nithyananda (@SriNithyananda) January 12, 2023
But alas for such good intentions, Kailasa does not exist except in the alternate reality of the internet.
On Jan. 18, Newark quietly voided the sister city agreement, but it was not until early this month that word of the blunder reached the media.
Newark representative Susan Garofalo, said in a statement that “as soon as we learned of the circumstances, the City of Newark immediately took action to cancel the sister city agreement.”
“Based on fraud, the ceremony was baseless and void. Although this was an unfortunate incident, the City of Newark remains committed to partnering with people from different cultures to enrich each other with connection, support and mutual respect.”
😅😅😅 A “Google search” won’t help these morons. https://t.co/M9T3YQPHcI
— Carla Venezia (@carla_venezia) March 12, 2023
As noted by Politico’s Matt Friedman, the ramifications of the fraud go beyond the city looking foolish and gullible.
“Newark Mayor Ras Baraka is often mentioned as a potential candidate for governor in 2025. If he actually wants to run, this embarrassment won’t help him,” he wrote, noting someone else also fell down on the job.
“TAPIntoNewark noticed it after numerous English language Indian outlets reported it. But if a major New Jersey newspaper had a reporter dedicated to covering government in this state’s largest city — especially one who knows how to use Google — perhaps news outlets from halfway across the world wouldn’t have had the story first,” he wrote.
Kailasa was created by Swami Nithyananda, a fugitive from India who was accused of rape in 2019 and has a reputation as a scammer, according to CBS.
The City of Newark rescinds sister-city agreement entered into with ‘United States of Kailasa’, terms incident regrettable.
Newark didn’t do any due diligence!
— Dextryl Ferrao (@Dextryl) March 12, 2023
Some Newark residents were disappointed no one checked into the alleged sister city.
“Whose job was it to do a simple Google search? No one in City Hall, not one person did a Google search, so maybe we need a transformation of City Hall ’cause not one person said, let me go and Google and figure out this was a fake city,” Newark resident Shakee Merritt said.
“I’m really sorry for the city that they got duped in that way,” Newark resident Amaris Mitchell said.
“It’s great, show love to the Hindu brothers and sisters, but… yeah, it’s a moment.”
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