- 1. A small amount of the substance the user wished to detect - such as explosives - was put in a Kilner jar along with a sticker that was intended to absorb the "vapours" of the substance
- 2. The sticker was then placed on a credit-card sized card, which was read by a card reader and inserted into the device
- 3. The user would then hold the device, which had no working electronics, and the swivelling antenna was meant to indicate the location of the sought substance
Freitag, 3. Oktober 2014
The sentencing of a British couple for making fake bomb detectors marks the end of a series of trials after a global scam which saw the devices end up in conflict zones and used by governments around the world.
From the battle against suicide bombers in Baghdad, to the drug wars in Mexico and the campaign against poachers in Africa, the "magic wand" detectors were used to search for explosives, cocaine and smuggled ivory.
In southern Thailand, with its longstanding insurgency, they were deployed by the armed forces in security sweeps.
In Pakistan, they were used to guard Karachi airport. And around the Middle East they were bought to protect hotels.
They were all bogus. But despite this, some are still in use today - in Iraq at checkpoints, in Pakistan at shopping centres and in Egypt to detect hepatitis and HIV.
The publicity and packaging cost more than the devices themselves. The fake "detectors" - sold with spurious but scientific-sounding claims - were little more than empty cases with an aerial which swings according to the user's unconscious hand movements, "the ideomotor effect".
Yet the scam lasted for years. It made British fraudsters millions of pounds - in thousands of sales across several continents.
And lives were put at risk.Assembled in garden
The wand-like devices marketed by a Somerset-based businessman called James McCormick were used in Iraq, where detecting a bomb means the difference between life and death.
Between 2008 and 2009, for example, more that 1,000 Iraqis were killed in explosions in Iraq - thousands more were injured.
McCormick was jailed for 10 years last year and others followed - 47-year-old businessman Gary Bolton was convicted last August, Samuel Tree will now spend three and a half years in jail, while his wife received a suspended sentence.
The Bedfordshire couple bought cheap plastic parts from China and assembled the devices in a shed in their back garden.
The prototype for the device began life in the US as the Gopher - marketed as "the perfect gift for the golfer who has everything." The $20 (£12) plastic gadget claimed to use advanced technology, "programmed to detect the elements found in all golf balls".
"Had it stayed a golf ball finder, this would never have been an issue," says Det Con Joanne Law, who investigated the scam for City of London Police.
But - with the simple addition of a new label - the Gopher became the "Quadro Tracker" - and was sold by a former used car salesman to point out drugs and explosives. After the FBI declared it a fraud in 1996, a British man involved with the device brought the idea back to the UK, where the scam resurfaced as the "Mole."
Attempts were made to market the Mole to British government agencies and, in 2001, it was tested by Home Office scientist, Tim Sheldon.
He told the BBC that he issued the strongest possible warning about the device, in advice circulated to government departments.
"The claims that were made for it were completely misleading," he says. "We warned that it would be potentially dangerous to use."
He thought that would be the end of the story.
But the fraudsters behind the bogus detectors repackaged and renamed them yet again, seeking out new markets overseas - where fewer questions would be asked and where bribes could oil the wheels of lucrative deals.
The fraudsters and their devices
The ADE-651 (supposedly shorthand for Advanced Detection Equipment) was sold to Iraq, Niger and other Middle Eastern countries by Somerset-based businessman, James McCormick, who is now serving 10 years in jail. The Iraqis spent £53m ($85m) on the devices at around £5,000 ($8,034) a time. Some sold for as much as £25,000 ($40,178).
The GT200 "remote substance detector", sold by Gary Bolton mainly in Mexico, Thailand, the Middle East and Africa. The device retailed at £5,000 ($8,034) but the highest price it achieved was £500,000 ($803,000). Bolton was sentenced to seven years.
The Alpha 6 manufactured by Samuel and Joan Tree and sold to Egypt, Thailand and Mexico, usually at £2,000 ($3,213) per device. The highest sale price was £15,500 ($24,906) Tree was given three and a half years behind bars while his wife was ordered to do 300 hours unpaid community work.
"I was really surprised at the scale of it," says the City of London's Police's Det Con Joanne Law of the scam. "And I was shocked by the methods the suspects used to sell them."
Sales demonstrations would be rigged to succeed, she says. Anyone sceptical of the devices would be publicly humiliated. And users were instructed not to open the equipment - to avoid damaging the "sensitive technology" inside.
Some of the devices came with "detector cards" which were programmed, the fraudsters claimed, to detect everything from explosives, to human beings and dollar bills through concrete, water and from great distances.'Embarrassing'
Fraudster Gary Bolton even charged the Royal Engineers thousands of pounds for useless cards that went missing from a trade fair at which uniformed members of the corps had been paid to help promote the bogus devices.
Bolton's device, the GT200, was also backed by British embassies in Mexico City and Manila, through the then Department of Trade and Industry.
"The involvement of UK government agencies in promoting this is very embarrassing and awkward," says Mr Sheldon, who was shocked to learn of the involvement of the Royal Engineers Exports Support Team.
"I really don't know how that could have happened. I think they should have checked with the experts that the device actually had some merit before they promoted it."
The government says it has since reviewed its procedures to make it clear the UK exhibiting equipment does not equate to an endorsement.
"When it becomes apparent that a company is making false claims, or the risk of this happening is significant, [UK Trade and Investment] will withdraw its support and refer matters to the appropriate authorities," a Cabinet Office spokesman says.
How McCormick's ADE-651 device was meant to work:
Neither the British nor American governments ever bought the device for themselves. But it took until 2010 for the UK government to bring in export controls - and then only to prevent its sale to Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Once it was established that they were rubbish, nonsense, completely useless pieces of junk that were being used to purportedly protect people from bombs and danger, there should have been an export ban immediately," says David Heath, Liberal Democrat MP for Somerset and Frome - where Jim McCormick is a constituent.
"The bizarre thing, as I understand it, is because it didn't work, it didn't have to have a licence. But no-one thought to mention that to the police, or to the Foreign Office and trade and industry people to stop them providing support.
"Someone somewhere made a big mistake," he says. "And I'd like to know who."
Five fraudsters have now been sentenced to jail terms over the bogus devices.
"I would hope that that would put a stop to it now," says Tim Sheldon. "But I suspect it will re-appear in a few years - if it hasn't already."
In fact, earlier this year, the device surfaced in Egypt with claims from the Egyptian military that it could detect some sexually transmitted diseases.
And the bogus detectors are still in use at checkpoints across Baghdad. They were also deployed at a recent security conference in Djibouti and, just this week, the BBC filmed them in use at a shopping mall in Pakistan.
Astonishingly, perhaps, some officials still blame user error or even the weather for the device's failure to detect explosives.
Gen Saad Ma'an, from Iraq's Ministry of Interior, accepts the devices are not working "to the required level" but says the country is still waiting to replace them.
"Maybe it's affected by conditions - by the weather, by how the policemen themselves are using it," he says.
But the message from the British police is unequivocal: "They don't work, don't use them."
Posted by Lumpy at 07:13
Samstag, 2. August 2014
Daily Mail: Couple sold worthless homemade bomb detectors for £1,170 while claiming they could be used to hunt for Madeleine McCann
- Samuel and Joan Tree built the 'detectors' in their Dunstable garden shed
- The pair were found guilty of fraud at the Old Bailey by majority verdict
- The court heard the scam was set to make in the region of £100 million
- Mr Tree claimed the device could even track missing people or drugs
- The couple manufactured 1,500 of detectors which sold for £1,170 each
By DARREN BOYLE
PUBLISHED: 11:36 EST, 1 August 2014 | UPDATED: 16:25 EST, 1 August 2014
A husband and wife have been found guilty of selling bogus bomb detectors which they made in their garden shed while claiming the machine could help find Madeleine McCann.
Samuel and Joan Tree were set to make £100 million from the fake devices due the 'outlandish claims' they could track down explosives and drugs.
But the detectors, known as Alpha 6 and marketed through their company Keygrove, were just plastic boxes with an antenna strapped on to them and bits of torn-up paper inside.
Samuel and Joan Tree were convicted for their part in a multi-million pound fraud where they sold thousands of bogus bomb detectors which they made in their Dunstable garden shed for only £5 each
The Trees, pictured, claimed the machines could detect bombs, drugs, cash and even track down missing people using the example of Madeleine McCann
They cost just a few pounds to make, but were sold for as much as $2,000 (£1,171).
The Trees are understood to have raked in hundreds of thousands of pounds after making up to 1,500 of the devices in the back garden of their semi-detached home.
One of the boxes was found to have a photograph of missing Madeleine cut into pieces inside.
They were both found guilty at the Old Bailey today of making an article for use in a fraud between January 2007 and July 2012.
Mr Tree, 67, bowed his head in the dock as the jury's verdict, by a majority of 11 to one, was delivered.
His 62-year-old wife was found guilty by a majority of ten to two.
Judge Richard Marks QC gave the pair bail ahead of sentencing but warned them: 'You must understand that all options are open to the court and the strong likelihood given the offence of which you have been found guilty is a custodial sentence.'
Mr Tree claimed it was possible to find people by putting a photo in the box.
He said he had used the method to look for Madeleine and two other children who vanished in Norfolk some years ago.
Both Mr and Mrs Tree, pictured were found guilty of fraud in the Old Bailey today by majority verdicts
Prosecutor Sarah Whitehouse QC told the Old Bailey: 'They claimed that this Alpha 6 was capable of detecting the presence of drugs and explosives and other substances and objects.
'They even claimed on one occasion that it is capable of finding particular people, most notably Madeleine McCann.
'These claims were all false. The device was nothing more than a plastic box with an antenna stuck on the top and some pieces of paper inside.
'It cost a few pounds to make and yet was sold to agents and suppliers for hundreds and sometimes thousands of times that amount.
'Despite the fact that these plastic boxes plainly could not work, people did, astonishingly, buy them.'
They claimed the Alpha 6 could detect substances as small as 15 billionths of a gram at a range of up to 500 metres and was powered by nothing more than static electricity from the user's body.
The prosecutor said: 'The impression given is one of sophistication and effectiveness based upon scientific principles.
'The reality was that Samuel and Joan Tree were assembling the devices in the garden of their semi-detached house in Dunstable with plastic boxes made in China and glue and bits of paper.'
She said Mr Tree was a 'very talented salesman' who believed he had the ability to 'pull the wool' over the eyes of his customers.
The Trees are the latest in a string of British con artists convicted for making phoney bomb detectors.
Gary Bolton from Chatham, Kent, was jailed in August 2013 for seven years after he was found guilty of selling £1,000 of the fake machines
Gary Bolton, of Redshank Road in Chatham, Kent, was jailed last August for seven years for selling more than 1,000 'useless' detectors which he claimed could track down bombs, drugs, ivory and money.
James McCormick, of Langport in Somerset, was sentenced to 10 years last May for selling fake bomb detectors.
Anthony Williamson, of Montgomery Road in Gosport, Hampshire, was also convicted last May of selling phoney gadgets.
Detective Constable Joanne Law, who led the investigation for the City of London Police's Overseas Ant-Corruption Unit, said: 'Sam and Joan Tree are criminals who put lives at risk when they chose to cash in on detectors manufactured to supposedly locate anything from hidden explosives to missing persons.
'The reality is the devices the husband and wife team created, which were later sold around the world to police and security services were absolutely useless and put both the users and the people they were bought to help and protect in grave danger.'
She said the convictions were the 'concluding act' in a 'highly complex, extensive and significant investigation'.
Ms Law added: 'The demise of these individuals sends a strong warning to anyone else who believes they can make criminal capital abroad while trading off the good name of British business.'
City of London Police Commander Steve Head, who oversees the Overseas Anti-Corruption Unit, said: 'The conviction of Sam and Joan Tree highlights how the City of London Police's Overseas Anti-Corruption Unit is working with our partners to lead the fight against bribery and corruption that is cultivated at home and implemented abroad.
'International corruption undermines local economies and leaves often vulnerable communities exposed, without a voice and struggling to support themselves.
'We will continue to target those responsible and follow the evidence wherever it takes us around the world to ensure that justice is served.'
The couple, of Houghton Road in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, will be sentenced on a date to be fixed next month.
Bolton lost challenges against his conviction and seven-year jail sentence yesterday, but the result of his appeal could not be reported until the jury returned verdicts in the Tree trial.
His case was dismissed by three Court of Appeal judges in London.
Bolton, now 48, was present in the dock of the court to hear Lord Justice Pitchford, Mr Justice Wilkie and Mr Justice Green reject his claims that he suffered 'unfair prejudice' during his trial and that his sentence was too long.
Lord Justice Pitchford said the sentence was 'appropriate' for the criminality involved in his case.
Jim McCormick, Gary Bolton, both 58, Anthony Williamson, 59, and married couple Samuel and Joan Tree duped governments, armies, and even the United Nations into buying their useless devices.
The fraudsters made wild claims that their products could hunt out explosives, drugs, and even ivory at distances up to three miles, bamboozling potential customers with made-up science.
Samuel Tree, 67, and his wife Joan, 62, made the outlandish claim that they had tracked missing Madeleine McCann to the M48 motorway in a bid to push the phoney detectors.
The devices that had sold for several thousand pounds a time were exposed as modified golf ball finders or modern-day divining rods, built in garden sheds for just a couple of pounds.
McCormick raked in £60m selling his devices around the world, including 6,000 for use in the perilous Green Zone in war-torn Iraq.
Det Supt Nigel Rock, from Avon and Somerset Police, said: 'It is inconceivable that a device hasn't gone through one of those checkpoints and exploded.'
The full extent of the bomb detector scam can today be reported fully after the Trees were convicted at the Old Bailey of their involvement.
Judge Richard Hone QC banned reports linking the five fraudsters while they stood trial separately, but he has now lifted restrictions.
McCormick was jailed for ten years for selling his machines to the UN in Lebanon, the military in Iraq and Belgium, and the Hong Kong prison service.
Incredibly, the crooked businessman continued to insist in court that the devices worked, despite a mountain of evidence against him.
He paid £13-a-piece for the machines before modifying them and charging up to £27,000 a time, accompanied by brochures claiming they could detect drugs, ivory and other contraband in quantities smaller than a human hair.
Jim McCormick, left and Anthony Williamson, right, had earlier been convicted of selling the devices
McCormick also boasted that his machines could find targets through walls and up to 30ft underground.
Bolton, who was jailed for seven years, made £45m from the scam, duping British diplomats and Army officials with wild claims the devices could detect explosives, drugs, cash, tobacco and even humans at distances of up to three miles.
He used crackpot scientific theories to hookwink Giles Paxman, the diplomat brother of former BBC journalist Jeremy Paxman, into supporting him while he was serving as the UK's ambassador to Mexico.
Bolton's devices were sold to Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, Egypt, China, and Thailand, with officials convinced they were 'the best thing since sliced bread'.
Williamson was one of the so-called 'inventors' of the bogus machines, making outlandish scientific claims to baffle potential clients and even purported to have an honorary doctorate.
Despite being a central part of the scam, Williamson was spared a jail sentence because of his failing health and the fact he had not profited enormously from the scam.
The Trees were convicted after a retrial, which heard the couple boasted they used technology similar to an MRI brain scanner.
In reality the devices were cheap plastic boxes imported from China and assembled in the couple's garden shed in Dunstable, Bedford, at a cost of just £5.10.
Samuel Tree even claimed that he had personally used one of them to look for missing Madeleine McCann and tracked her down to the M48 motorway.
But when one of the devices was examined it was found to contain a cut-up photograph of the three-year-old girl, leading the conman to claim putting a photo of a missing person inside the box was part of the technology.
Quizzed by detectives, he confessed to having no idea how his boxes supposedly worked.
The scam sold bogus products XK9, Alpha 6, GT200 and The Mole through the firms Global Technical Ltd, Tactical Electronic Services, CommsTrack, and Keygrove International.
When sentencing McCormick, Judge Hone accused him of 'a cavalier disregard for the potentially fatal consequences.'
He said: 'The device was useless, the profits outrageous and your culpability as a fraudster has to be placed in the highest category.
'The jury found you knew the devices didn't work but the soldiers in Iraq and elsewhere believed they did, in part due to your powers of salesmanship and in part due to the extravagant and fraudulent claims made in your promotional material.
'I am wholly satisfied that your fraudulent conduct in selling as many devices for simply enormous profit promoted a false sense of security and in all probability materially contributed in causing death and injury to innocent individuals.'
Samuel and Joan Tree, of Dunstable, Bedfordshire, both denied making an article for use in fraud.
Bolton, of St. Marys Island, Chatham, Kent, denied making an article for use in fraud and supplying an article for use in fraud.
McCormick, of Park Farm, Hambridge, Langport, Somerset, denied three counts of making an article for use in fraud.
Williamson, from Gosport Gosport, denied making an article for use in fraud.
Simon Sherrard, 51, from Hampstead, was cleared of making an article for use in fraud and possessing an article for use in fraud after a trial.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2713410/Couple-sold-worthless-homemade-bomb-detectors-1-170-claiming-used-hunt-Madeleine-McCann.html#ixzz39HCj0nLI
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Posted by Lumpy at 15:36