An attempt at a joke went awry after the Sanibel Police Department initiated an investigation into a falsified press release declaring that the city had banned the issuance of any new building permits.
City Manager Judith Zimomra said the perpetrator had admitted guilt after a real press release was sent out on Tuesday afternoon declaring that the police had become involved. She said the guilty party had used the city's press release template, but changed the headline and text to indicate that it was banning new permits.
"They forwarded it to someone in the construction industry and meant it to be a joke," she said.
But, the recipient didn't see it as a joke and the fake release was forwarded to other local contractors who inundated City Hall with questions about future permits.
"In this day in age, with one click of a computer and any communication can go viral, people rely heavily on the information we provide them and it's important that information is credible," said Zimomra.
The city issued no such ban and officials are asking recipients to disregard this press release, and call 472-3700 for more information.