A British man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by a London court for selling more than £55 million (65€m) worth of fake bomb detectors.
Jim McCormick, 57, sold his ADE 651 ‘bomb detector’ units to both government agencies and private companies, including the United Nations.
British police say, in reality, the product was a $20 machine for finding golfballs. McCormick made the product look more advanced before selling it for between $2,500 (1,900€) and $30,000 (23,000€) per unit.
It was claimed the device could bypass “all forms of concealment”, finding explosives at long range, underground and through lead-lined rooms. One scientist told the jury the device’s antenna was “no more a radio antenna than a nine-inch nail”. Police added the only genuine thing about the product was the case it came in.
McCormick was convicted on three counts of fraud in a case that the judge referred to as “a callous confidence trick”. The judge added: “The device was useless, the profit outrageous, and your culpability as a fraudster has to be considered to be of the highest order.”
The bogus product is believed to have been sold in Iraq, Georgia, Romania, Niger, Thailand and Saudi Arabia.
The prosecution said the “inescapable conclusion” was that Iraqi civilians had died because of the machine. It cited truck bombs that hit the justice and foreign affairs ministries in Iraq after being checked with the useless device.
The defence argued “any amount of protective devices at checkpoints in Baghdad couldn’t protect the people of Iraq from those who conduct the insurgency there”.
Talking of McCormick, Detective Superintendent Nigel Rock said: “He has shown no shame, he has shown no remorse, and he carried on with complete cavalier disregard for the consequences of his con-trick.”
Rock also spoke about McCormicks “extravagant lifestyle”, saying Iraqi authorities would now be “pursuing compensation through the civil court process in this country”.
Police are warning that the device may still be in use at some checkpoints.