Perfume Peddlers Knocking People out with Ether Then Robbing Them-Was Fiction! Now a Copycat Incident May have Occurred!



Summary of eRumor:  
The author says he or she was approached in a public place, such as a mall or on the street, and offered the chance to sample some perfume fragrances.  The author declined, then later learned that robbers are using that method to disable people with a whiff of ether then robbing them while they are unconscious.

The Truth:

This eRumor circulated on the Internet from the late 1990’s to 2008 with no documented cases of perfume crooks being reported.

Several different versions said that these events had happened in various cities in the United States.

Medical experts (as well as the many people who were anesthetized in the old days with ether) say one hit of ether is not enough to knock someone out.

Then in July, 2008, a woman was arrested in Houma, Louisiana and charged with battery and unlawful solicitation in a scheme that sounded very much like the eRumor. 

The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s office said that the 22-year old woman approached a man in a parking lot outside a video store and asked if he wanted to buy some perfume.  She then sprayed him with the stuff and the victim said the fumes left him feeling light-headed and irritated his skin and that he had to go to the emergency room for treatment.  Houma police then discovered that the same woman had approached an 18-year old a month earlier with the same offer and had given him a whiff of the alleged perfume.  He later returned to work and passed out.  He was given tests at a hospital for symptoms including dizziness, shortness of breath, and numbness in his extremities.  Officials never found out what the woman had in the bottles but she was arrested by a state trooper who spotted her after a police broadcast of the description of her car.  There were three men in the car with her who said they sold perfume in New Orleans all the time.

There was also a report of a similar incident by Police in Mobile, Alabama in 1999, although it was never proven that it was perpetrated by a crook.  Officers said that 54 year old Bertha Johnson told them that she was knocked out and robbed by someone who had her sample a fragrance.  An article in the Mobile Register newspaper from November 11, 1999, quoted Johnson as saying the woman claimed she was selling cologne.  After one whiff, Johnson said she passed out and awoke to discover that she and her car were no longer in the parking lot of the bank, she had a splitting headache, and $800 was missing from her purse, including some money she was depositing for her employer.  Johnson is having to battle skeptics who believe she invented the story and took the money herself.  No evidence has been found to substantiate what she alleged.

Updated 7-12-08

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

ubject: FW: Warning, please read 

Received this e-mail from my sister and brother-in-law this morning. Sounds a little scary, as it could happen. Feel free to forward to all you think will be interested and warned, especially women. 
Subject: Scary!! Please read!! I was pumping gas at the Texaco station at Merle Hay and Douglas approximately a week and a half ago and a young girl walked up to me and asked if I’d like to sample some perfume scents. She said that they had all the latest fragrances. I looked over at her car which was a turquoise sub-compact and her boyfriend (?) was rooting through the trunk. I declined, saying that I had to get back to work. She said again that they had all the latest scents and it wouldn’t take long. I again declined and went inside to pay for my gas. She said, “Thanks anyway”, and went back to her car. When I pulled out, the two were just sitting there in the car. She smiled and waved. I thought it was an odd thing at the time, but the note below really brings it home that it could have been part of this indeed frightening scenario. I don’t know WHAT they had in mind, but I can verify that this happened to me here in Des Moines.

 Please be careful, ladies. I think I may have gotten lucky.  I was sent an e-mail at work about someone walking up to you at malls in or parking lots and asking you to sniff perfume they are selling at a cheap price. This isn’t really perfume but 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, 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 email I got yesterday, I could very well may have been a victim. (Ain’t God good?) Remember to pas this on!!