Carpark Perfume Hoax
Home Hoaxes Perfume Urban Legend – “Car Park Criminals Using Ether Disguised as Perfume”

Perfume Urban Legend – “Car Park Criminals Using Ether Disguised as Perfume”

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline

Circulating messages claim that criminals lurking in parking areas are using drugs disguised as perfume to debilitate and rob victims.

Brief Analysis

The warnings are untrue and should not be taken seriously. They are just incarnations of a long-running urban legend that has been passed around since at least the year 2000. The stories are derived from a 1999 case in which a woman in Alabama claimed to have been assaulted and robbed by assailants who used a debilitating substance disguised as perfume. The original story remains unsubstantiated and may well be untrue. And no credible police or news reports about such robbery methods have been published in the years since. Moreover, it would normally take more than one or two sniffs of a substance – even ether – to render a victim instantly unconscious. Versions of the “warning” have been set in several countries.

Examples

Walmart Car Park Perfume HoaxE

 


Perfume Hoax Warning
[Note: Clicking opens a website article with a LIDL version of the same hoax]

 

Guys pass this on and make sure your kids know!!! Thank you…. I just got this forwarded to me- Pls, if anyone stops you and ask if you are interested in some perfumes and gives you a paper to smell, pls don’t! It’s a new scam. the paper is laced with drugs, You will pass out so they can rob you or do worse things to you, Pls forward to all friends and the family..save a life pls. Don’t forget kids with phones!!!!! High TARGETS!!!

 

Subject: FW: PLEASE CIRCULATE…SERIOUS
This is something that happened to us on the way back from holiday last week. At first I didn’t think much of it until now. The reason we were a little suspicious is we had been riding in a jeep all day with 100 degree temps and we stopped at a truck stop for something to drink. When I was leaving, a young girl followed me out and asked what kind of cologne I was wearing. Well, after 7 hours in the car sweating, I don’t think you could tell if I was or was not wearing any cologne. We just got in the jeep and said no thanks. Then it was about 3 weeks ago, I was at a service station in Birmingham getting fuel. It was about 9:30 PM. I was approached by 2 men and 2 women in a car. The man that was driving asked me ‘What kind of perfume do you wear?’ I was a bit confused and I asked him ‘Why?’ He said, ‘We are selling some name brand perfumes at cheap prices.’ I told him I had no money. He then reached out of the car and handed me paper that was laminated; it had many perfumes on it. I looked quickly at it and gave it back. I said again that I had no money. He said, ‘That’s OK, we take check, cash, or credit cards.’ Then the people in the car began to laugh. I just got in my car and said no thanks. Then I received this e-mail yesterday and it sent chills up my spine. Please read this; it is no joke. Here is the e-mail I was sent:_____________________________________________________
Dear Friends:I know not all of you are women that I am sending this to, but am hoping you will share this with your wives, daughters, mothers, sisters, etc. Be careful. I was approached yesterday afternoon around 5:30 PM in the ASDA carpark by two males asking what kind of perfume I was wearing. Then they asked if I’d like to sample some fabulous scent they were willing to sell me at very reasonable rate. I probably would have agreed had I not received an e-mail warning of a ‘Wanna smell this neat perfume?’ scam. The men continued to stand between parked cars, I guess to wait for someone else to hit on. I stopped a lady going towards them, pointing at them, and told her about how I was sent an e-mail at work about someone walking up to you at the malls or in carparks and asking you to SNIFF PERFUME that they are selling at a cheap price or at least compare to which one you like best. THIS IS NOT PERFUME…IT IS ETHER! When you sniff it, you’ll pass out. They’ll take your wallet, your valuables and heaven knows what else. If it were not for this e-mail, I probably would have sniffed the ‘perfume’, but thanks to the generosity of an e-mailing friend, I was spared whatever might have happened to me.

I wanted to do the same for you.____________________________________________________PLEASE PASS THIS ALONG TO ALL YOUR WOMEN FRIENDS, AND PLEASE BE ALERT AND BE AWARE. IF YOU ARE A MAN AND RECEIVE THIS, PASS IT ON TO YOUR WOMEN FRIENDS.

Ladies, this happened to me yesterday and I didn’t smell the perfume either, thanks to this email. This is true. Believe me, I know. I was over by Big Lots in the carpark at lunch time when I was approached. So either day or night, it does not matter. There were 3 guys together when I was approached. I called the police. Like the email says above, LET EVERYONE KNOW ABOUT THIS – YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY, CO-WORKERS, whomever. It helped me. The first thing that popped into my head was this e-mail warning.

 

PLEASE PASS THIS ALONG TO YOUR WOMEN FRIENDS!!!
This is happening in Tesco’s across the country!
I was approached yesterday afternoon around 3:30pm in my local Tesco car park by two males, asking what kind of perfume I was wearing. Then they asked if I’d like to sample some fabulous scent they were willing to sell me at a very reasonable Price. I probably would have agreed had I not received an email a couple of days ago, warning of a ‘wanna smell this gorgeous perfume?’ scam.The men continued to stand between parked cars, I presumed to wait for someone else to try it on. I stopped a lady going towards them, pointed at them, and told her about how I was sent an e-mail at work about someone walking up to you at the shopping centre or Supermarket car parks , and asking you to SNIFF THE PERFUME that they are selling at a ridiculously cheap price.
THIS IS NOT PERFUME – IT IS ETHER!
When you sniff it, you’ll pass out. And they’ll take your handbag, your valuables, and car keys. If it were not for this e-mail, I probably would have sniffed the “perfume”. But thanks to the generosity of an emailing friend, I was spared whatever might have happened to me. I wanted to do the same for you.
PASS THIS ALONG TO ALL YOUR WOMEN FRIENDS, AND PLEASE BE ALERT, AND AWARE!!

 

Detailed Analysis

According to this widely circulated warning message, criminals are using ether disguised as perfume as a means of debilitating and robbing victims. The message claims that the criminals are posing as parking lot perfume sellers and are asking passers-by to sniff their samples.

Supposedly, the perfume is laced with a substance so powerful that the sniffers will immediately pass out, thus allowing the robbers to easily steal their possessions.
A newer social-media driven variant claims that the robbers are presenting papers laced with knock-out perfume to victims for sniffing.

However, the warnings are just incarnations of a long-running urban legend that has been passed around since at least the year 2000. Versions of the “warning” have been set in several countries, including the US, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Northern Ireland.

In 1999, Bertha Johnson of Mobile, Alabama claimed to have been assaulted and robbed by assailants who used a debilitating substance disguised as perfume. The story was reported by local media and soon made its way to the Internet and spread rapidly, morphing as it went. The tale changed from being a simple report about a single alleged incident to breathless warnings claiming that such attacks were common and widespread.

But, there are no credible news or police reports that suggest that such robbery attempts are commonly occurring. In fact, even the original story may have been untrue. Later toxicology reports on samples of Johnson’s blood and urine revealed no abnormal substances. And, when the alleged robbery took place, Johnson was in possession of a substantial sum of her employer’s money.

Moreover, while ether is certainly capable of rendering a person unconscious, it would take considerably more than a casual sniff of the substance to achieve that aim. In fact, despite what movies and television dramas would have us believe, there are probably very few – if any – substances that would have such an instant knock-out effect after just one or two open-air sniffs.

Nevertheless, well over a decade later, versions of the warnings continue to hit inboxes and appear on social networking sites. As always, the warnings are never confirmed by any credible police or media reports. The old stories are probably given new life by sightings of real car park perfume sellers. Some perfume distributors may well employ mobile sales staff who may offer free samples to potential customers. Of course, the samples only contain perfume as claimed and the sellers have no sinister intentions ( other than to separate shoppers from their hard-earned).

There are several variations of the original story that circulate as separate warning messages. One falsely claims that several people have died after sniffing perfume samples sent to them in the mail. Another variant claims – again falsely – that criminals are using business cards laced with the drug burundanga to debilitate and control victims.


Importance Notice

After 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 You

I 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 Date

Hoax-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!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer