Get a Whiff of This!
Date Added: Nov. 3, 2000
This urban legend warns of a crime that is supposedly being committed in parking lots across the country. It takes a totally feasible scenario, mixes in a little paranoia and serves it with a heaping helping of imagination and social profiling.
LADIES BE CAREFUL. GENTLEMEN PASS THIS ALONG TO YOUR WIVES AND SISTERS AND FRIENDS.
I just wanted to pass along that I was approached yesterday afternoon at around 3:30 p.m. in the Wal-Mart parking lot at Forest Drive by 2 males asking what kind of perfume I was wearing. I didn't stop to answer them and kept walking toward the store. At the same time I remembered this email. The men continued to stand between parked cars-I guess to wait on someone else to hit on. I stopped a lady going toward them, pointed at them, and told her what they might ask and NOT to let them get near her. When that happened, the men and a lady (I don't know where she came from!) started walking the other way toward their car parked in far corner of the parking lot. I WAS SENT AN E-MAIL AT WORK ABOUT SOMEONE WALKING UP TO YOU AT IN A MALL OR PARKING LOT AND ASKING YOU TO SNIFF PERFUME THEY ARE SELLING AT A CHEAP PRICE. THIS ISN'T REALLY PERFUME, BUT ITS ETHER, AND YOU WILL PASS OUT AND THEY TAKE YOUR WALLET AND ALL YOUR VALUABLES.
THIS IS NOT A PRANK E-MAIL, THIS IS TRUE BECAUSE I WAS STOPPED IN GOVERNORS SQUARE PARKING LOT TODAY. A MAROON CAR PULLED UP TO ME WITH TWO FEMALES. THE FEMALE ON THE PASSENGER SIDE ROLLED DOWN THE WINDOW AND ASKED ME IF I WOULD BE INTERESTED IN "SNIFFING" SOME PERFUME THEY WERE SELLING. I REMEMBERED THE E-MAIL I JUST RECEIVED YESTERDAY, AND SAID NO. SHE ASKED ME A SECOND TIME, I KEPT ON WALKING SAID NO ONCE AGAIN AND THEY PULLED OFF. IF IT WEREN'T FOR THE E-MAIL, I VERY WELL MAY HAVE DONE IT.
PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND TELL THEM TO BEWARE. THIS IS TRUE!! IF IT WEREN'T FOR THE E-MAIL I GOT YESTERDAY, I COULD VERY WELL HAVE BEEN A VICTIM. REMEMBER TO PASS THIS ON!!!!!
Later versions include anonymous, supposedly first-person "testimonials" of people who may or may not have narrowly avoided disaster because they had seen the warning above. These examples are set in a variety of cities throughout the U.S.:
This is something that happened to Ryan and me on the way back from Texas last spring. 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 degrees 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 I was or was not wearing any cologne. We just got in the jeep and said no thanks. So this does happen.
It was about 3 weeks ago, I was at the shell in Auburn getting gas. It was about 11:30 p.m. I was approached but 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 perfume, at cheap prices." I said I had no money. He them reached out of the car and handed me a paper that was laminated, it had many perfumes on it. I looked quickly at it and gave it back. I said, I have no money. He then said it is OK, we take check, cash, or credit cards. Them 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 not a joke.
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, mother, sisters, etc. Our world seems to be getting crazier by the day. Pipes bombs in mailboxes and sickos in parking lots with perfume. Be careful I was approached yesterday afternoon around 3:30 PM in the Wal-Mart parking lot at University Drivein Des Moines, 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 rate. I probably would have agreed had I not received an email some weeks ago 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 a e-mail at work, about someone walking up to you at the malls or in parking lots, and asking you to SNIFF PERFUME that they are selling at a cheap price.
I want to let you know what happened to me yesterday while filling my car with gas. I was as the Amoco station in St. Charles getting gas when a young man (21-25 yrs) came up to me and asked how I was, if I had just gotten off work, and where I worked. I gave him the cold shoulder because it was actually chilly out there in the wind. Then he asked me if I wanted to smell some perfume. Bingo! The red flag went up. I said no, and when he persisted, I told him that I was late for an appointment and that people were expecting me to show up any minute. And when I said no, I pointed the gas nozzle directly at him. He must have seen the anger growing in my face because he then left. However, I did not let him out of my sight as I filled the tank. He walked over to the A&W; where two other strangers were standing. One was Oriental and the other was black. All three of them were carrying duffle bag, computer case- type bags. Then while I was filling up with gas, another customer came and then the Oriental walked up to him and asked this guy if he wanted to smell perfume. I still kept all three in my view at all times. Then I left and went directly to the city police and told them what I saw. In addition to being angry that someone was out to get my hard-earned money, I had to face a police officer who gave me the impression that I was talking to Gomer Pyle. Had it not been for an e-mail that I received from a good friend of mine two months ago talking about the scam of perfume perpetrators, I wouldn't have known about the potential of being ripped off or perhaps hurt.
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 parking lot 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 when I got back to my desk. Like the email says above, LET EVERYONE KNOW ABOUT THIS. YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY, COWORKERS, who ever. It helped me.
The first thing that popped in my head was this email warning.
I (Simon) know someone who was approached last week after taking $500 out of an ATM by some guy who asked what perfume she was wearing.
They asked her if she wanted to buy some Cheap imitation and to have a smell (she declined).
Ladies this happened to me yesterday and I didn't smell the perfume either thanks to this email. I was over by the Post Office in the parking lot in Surrey Hills at lunch time when I was approached.
So either day or night, it doesn't matter. There were 3 guys together when I was approached. I called the Police when I got back to my desk.
First-person testimonials of this crime almost happening have surfaced in a variety of locations in several different countries. Law enforcement officials in most of the areas mentioned have investigated credible claims and found no evidence of wrong-doing. In fact, if you re-read each account above carefully, you'll notice that none states the crime actually took place. Just as in the original, in each testimonial, the victim thwarted her would-be attackers by being suspicious of their intentions - a suspicion that is based on urban legend, not fact - presumably before they were able to set their trap.
The origins of this chain letter probably go back to a 1999 claim by a woman in Mobile, Alabama, that she had been approached by a woman in a bank parking lot and offered a great deal on perfume. She said she sniffed and came-to later, not knowing where she was or what happened to the $800 she was carrying (some of it belonging to her employer). No witnesses or investigators have been able to corroborate her story and, in fact, authorities have suggested that the woman pocketed the money and created the story as a cover - a common scam.
This legend tends to resurface every year around the holiday shopping season, along with a host of other urban legends. In previous warnings about fake commercials and flat tires, ankle-slashing gang member initiations and the classic naked-in-the-restroom theft ploy, as in the example above, several themes prevail:
The narrative doesn't actually provide any evidence that such a crime has been or is being committed. In every case, our heroine outsmarts her would-be attackers before they can even initiate their dastardly plot. Ill-intent is always assumed, but never demonstrated.
As for the assertion that thieves are using ether to knock victims out, toxicology and forensics experts point out that ether doesn't quite work this way. To knock someone out, ether would have to be applied in a highly concentrated form (such as an ether-soaked rag). Inhaling ether vapors from an open bottle is unlikely to knock a victim unconscious. Any chemical potent enough to render someone unconscious through inhalation and would be hazardous to the "attacker" as well as the victim, and would have to be carefully handled and skillfully applied.
There are several legitimate door-to-door perfume marketing programs that encourage their salespeople to peddle their wares in public parking lots and from their vehicles. As always, consumers (men and women alike) should be wary of unconventional approaches by salesmen in unusual places. But don't assume that if the prelude fits the legend, a crime is afoot. Be safe, but not paranoid. Break this chain!