This story was first published on June 24, 2010
Messages circulating via Facebook, SMS and email claim that seven women have died after inhaling free perfume samples sent to them in the mail.
The claims in these warning messages are untrue. The warning is a newer version of an old hoax that first began circulating back in 2001. There are no credible reports that support the claims in the message. Gleneagles Hospital has also denied any connection or involvement whatsoever with the warning message.
These dire warning messages, which have circulated for years via social networking websites, email, and SMS, claim that seven women have died after inhaling a free perfume sample sent to them in the mail. According to the messages, which bill themselves as urgent news from Gleneagles Hospital, the government suspects that the killings were a deliberate act of terrorism.
However, the claims in the warning messages are untrue. There are no credible news or police reports of any kind that confirm the claims in the warning messages. If seven women had really died after inhaling deadly perfume samples sent to them by terrorists, then you can rest assured that news outlets around the world would have reported extensively on the story. This lack of any legitimate confirmation of the claims in the warnings is, by itself, enough to cast serious doubt on their veracity. If it were true, it is vastly improbable that such an important safety alert would circulate only in the form of vague and breathless social networking posts, emails or SMS messages.
Moreover, Gleneagles Hospital, the Malaysian medical institution named in the warnings as the source of the information, has categorically denied any connection or involvement whatsoever with these messages. A disclaimer on the hospital’s website noted:
Recently, an email and short message service (SMS) has been circulating amongst members of the public pertaining to a poisonous perfume sample which caused the death of seven women upon inhalation and exposure. It was purportedly sent by a person who claimed to be an employee of Gleneagles Hospital Limited, on behalf of the hospital, in order to warn the public as these seven women were supposedly admitted and treated at Gleneagles Hospital.
We understand the panic and mystification that this email has caused and the public’s need to seek verification and consolation from a reliable medical institution such as ours. Thus, we would like to highlight that we have never admitted or treated such patients and have never been aware of such incidences. We would also like to categorically state that this email did not originate from our Hospital and / or any of our employees, current or otherwise. In addition, we declare that no one was ever at any time commissioned or authorised by the Hospital to deliver and circulate such warnings.
In fact, these warnings are nothing more than revamped versions of a tired old hoax that first began circulating back in 2001. As the following example of one 2002 version illustrates, the wording of the hoax has hardly changed in years:
IMPORTANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SEVEN WOMEN HAVE DIED AFTER INHALING A FREE PERFUME SAMPLE THAT WAS MAILED TO THEM. THE PRODUCT WAS POISONOUS. IF YOU RECEIVE FREE SAMPLES IN THE MAIL SUCH AS LOTIONS, PERFUMES, DIAPERS, ETC. – THROW THEM AWAY!
THE GOVERNMENT IS AFRAID THAT THIS MIGHT BE ANOTHER TERRORIST ACT. T HEY WILL NOT ANNOUNCE IT ON THE NEWS BECAUSE THEY DO NOT WANT TO CREATE PANIC OR GIVE THE TERRORISTS NEW IDEAS.
SEND THIS TO ALL YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS.
A version collected in early 2009, is again almost identical. This version adds on the erroneous information about Gleneagles Hospital:
News from Gleneagles Hospital URGENT !!!!!
Seven women have died after inhaling a free perfume sample that was mailed to them. The product was poisonous. If you receive free samples in the mail such as lotions, perfumes, diapers etc. throw them away. The government is afraid that this might be another terrorist act. They will not announce it on the news because they do not want to create panic or give the terrorists new ideas. Send this to all your friends and family members.
Gleneagles Hospital Limited
Human Resource Department
These hoax messages are loosely related to a long-running urban legend that falsely claims that criminals are using ether disguised as perfume in order to abduct females from parking lots.
Sending on utterly bogus warnings such as these spreads unnecessary fear and alarm among communities. Such hoaxes also waste the time and resources of police and medical authorities who must continually field queries about the warnings from concerned members of the public. If you encounter one of these pointless hoaxes, please help curtail its continued spread by informing the sender that the information in the warning is untrue.