A report of seven women dying from sniffing free perfume samples they got in the mail isn't only bogus: It's years-old "scarelore."
People who've forwarded the fake news would have known better if they'd checked with Snopes.com , a site that investigates and then confirms or denies such reports.
For one thing, Snopes notes , no specific products are mentioned. None of the purported dead are identified in any way -- by name, date of death, manner of death, etc.
Here's the other thing: If there were seven dead women, how is it no loved ones contacted the media? Where are the obituaries or death notices?
The threat of terrorism clearly can cloud judgment.
A scare sniffed out by Hackensack police 13 months after 9/11 involved a man buying tens of thousands of dollars of Halloween candy at Costco stores in Hackensack and Wayne -- which people took to mean an attempt to poison countless kids.
It turned out he bought candy in bulk and sold it by the piece at the Meadowlands Flea Market.
NOT SURE if a warning you've read or heard is real or a hoax?
GO TO: snopes.com
A month after 9/11, the first online "warnings" surfaced out of "Glen Eagles Hospital."
The product was poisonous and that the government is "afraid that this might be another terrorist act" -- and, so, is hiding the information from the public so that people didn't panic, the bogus report said.
It was an easy con to buy, given then-Attorney General John Ashcroft's warnings about terrorists and the media furor over the deaths of five people from anthrax spore mailings .
The alert kicked up in 2010 to include warnings about ANY samples offered to consumers, either through the mail or handed to them.
Tide detergent, for one, was said to contain anthrax -- more nonsense. “It was on CNN today!” some messages said.
This particular scare (and there have been many of all sorts) could have evolved from media accounts of robberies of women who'd been overcome with fumes disguised as perfume in parking lots , Snopes theorizes.
An administrative assistant in the Harris County, Texas county attorney's office didn't help forwarded the warning in 2002. Forwards included her signature block, conveying a sense of authority.
Other signature lines have shown up in the chains, often shared by well-meaning -- but ill-informed -- readers.
The "Gleneagles Hospital" tag brought the bogus warning into social media and through text messages.
The hospital -- based in, of all places, Singapore -- had to post a disclaimer:
" 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 ."
Despite its reputation for spreading news instantly, the Internet also stores just about everything -- which means anything from the past can suddenly be replicated at furious speed if the wrong person stumbles across it.
The perfume warning resurfaced 19 months ago on Facebook and has lurked in various corners , Snopes notes.
People sharing it have added twists, including that ISIS might have been responsible for the fictional "attacks."
“We sincerely hope that all members of the public who had read this email and our clarification will inform everyone around them that this is a hoax and urge everyone to ignore and delete such emails in the future,” a Gleneagles Hospital spokeswoman said.
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