Some London residents have become the latest to be caught out by an aging urban legend that claims drivers are in danger from gang members participating in a violent initiation ritual.
The legend, which spreads via word of mouth, fax and email, warns drivers that if they see a car driving without headlights after dark, they should not signal the car’s driver in any way.
According to the hoax, a new gang member is driving the car operating without lights as part of an initiation ceremony. Supposedly, those who signal the driver will be followed and shot at by the “gang member” to complete the “initiation”.
Police have reassured the public that no such crimes have currently been reported in London. The hoax began circulating via email and fax back in 1993 and may have originated from even earlier stories involving motorcycle gangs. It was also given new life by the 1998 film “Urban Legend” which featured the initiation ritual described.
While incidents resembling the one described in the hoax have actually occurred, they are thought to be copycat crimes inspired by the legend itself.
Bogus warnings such as this one should be deleted rather than forwarded. Indeed, such messages are far from harmless. They can waste the valuable time of police staff who have to field endless enquires about such spurious claims. They can spread unnecessary fear and alarm within a community. At worst, they may encourage criminals to act out the myth in real life.
Over the years, there have been a number of versions of the hoax.
One of the officers who works with the DARE programme has passed long the following warning and asked that it be shared with all drivers.
This is an extremely serious matter. If you are driving after dark and you see a car without its headlights on do not flash your lights, do not blow your horn or make any signals to the driver of the other car. This is a new common gang initiation game going on the streets.
The new member being initiated drives along without his headlights on until someone notices and flashes their headlights or makes some other action to signal him. The gang member is now required to chase the car and to shoot at or into the car in order to complete his initiation requirements.
Please take this seriously. This is not a joke. Please pass this on to everyone you know on email and in person. It could save someone’s life!
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!