Bomb detectors were actually golf-ball finders

25 April 2013 - 02:51 By Reuters
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

A British businessman was convicted of fraud this week after making millions of dollars selling fake bomb-detection equipment based on a golf-ball finder to countries around the world.

James McCormick, 56, manufactured and sold the hand-held "ADE 651" devices to countries at serious risk from bombings, such as Iraq, claiming they could detect explosives, drugs and other substances.

But the detectors had no working components, lacked any basis in science and did not work in accordance with the laws of physics, London's Old Bailey court heard.

Marketing material claimed items could be detected up to 1km underground, at up to 4.8km from the air and 33m under water.

During his trial, McCormick said he had sold his detectors to police in Kenya, the prison service in Hong Kong, the army in Egypt and border control in Thailand. They were also sold in Niger and Georgia. Between 2008 and 2010, Iraq bought 6000 devices at a cost of $40-million.

"A large proportion of these were countries where there was and still remains a real risk of terrorism and criminality," said Detective Superintendent Nigel Rock of Avon and Somerset Police.

"It is clear that both civilians and armed forces personnel were put at significant risk in relying upon this equipment." McCormick said he had received no negative reports from customers. He will be sentenced next month.