Montag, 9. Juni 2014

Why Is Pakistan Still Using The Fake ADE 651 To Protect Airports?

Why are countries still using the fake bomb detectors sold by a convicted British conman?


The Guardian home
Pakistani army personnel stand guard at Karachi's airport

Pakistani security personnel still guard Karachi's Jinnah airport using versions of Jim McCormick's phoney bomb detector. They are not alone in having a seemingly unshakeable belief in the ADE 651
It is is one of the world's most obvious terrorist targets. So how did a group of 10 militants armed with guns, bomb vests, rocket-launchers and grenades get into Karachi's Jinnah airport? Part of the answer, incredibly, may lie in the fact that Pakistani security personnel still guard the outer perimeter using versions of the phoney bomb detector sold bythe convicted British conman Jim McCormick .
McCormick's device, which he called the ADE 651, was itself a variation of a common design. Essentially, a telescopic radio aerial is attached by a hinge to a plastic handgrip. When used by a "properly trained" operator, who must first sensitise it to the "molecular frequency" of explosives, it was supposed to point out bombs by swinging towards them.
In fact, all this was nonsense.  The aerial swings because of unconscious movements by the operator, known as the ideomotor effect – the same thing that gives rise to the common belief in dowsing. Nevertheless, McCormick and other fraudsters, such as Gary Bolton , exported thousands to clients around the world, including in Iraq and Pakistan. Less ambitious criminals used to sell them as golf ball detectors in the 1990s.
Like dowsers, though, many security personnel continued to keep the faith. In 2010, even after McCormick had been charged with fraud, Pakistan's Airport Security Force admitted to the Dawn newspaper  that they were continuing to use a device of their own design that operates on the same principle.
Iraq, which had been McCormick's largest market, still uses them too , despite repeated warnings. In 2009, the New York Times confronted bomb squad commander Major General Jehad al-Jabiri with evidence of the ADE 651's fraudulence, yet he insisted that it was effective, saying: "Whether it's magic or scientific, what I care about is it detects bombs." In 2011, al-Jabiri was charged  and later jailed for – of all things – taking bribes from McCormick. And still the ADE 651s were being used, as recently October 2013.
At the same time it was apparently common to find Beirut security guardsstill scanning cars for explosives with an ADE 651, or something similar . And there are reports of other devices being used in the south of Thailand . Indeed, according to Detective Sergeant Steve Mapp, who led the investigation into McCormick, some people's belief in the ADE 651 is almost unshakeable. As he told Business Week , "In Kenya they said, 'No, we know about Mr McCormick's conviction, but we're really glad we've got them – and they do work.'"
Jim McCormick

Freitag, 23. August 2013

Who Else Is Serving Seven Years In Prison For Explosive Dowsing Fraud?

While not highlighted in the article below, Josh Lankford was a key player in the Sniffex stock scam as well. Though not as satisfying as the recent convictions in the UK for the direct fraud of selling bogus explosive detectors, seven years is seven years. Lankford told the court he had fled to Costa Rica out of fear and hadn't wanted to hurt people. He sold fake explosive detectors to unwitting victims and then scammed investors by artificially pumping up the stock price and cashing in. He deserves no sympathy. He should be afraid after endangering lives and robbing people of their savings.

This article should be a good reminder for anyone currently selling the Sniffex by the new name, HEDD1.
 

$44 million stock fraud conspirator sentenced to seven years in federal prison

By DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer on May 16, 2013, at 6:21 PM  


Joshua Wayne Lankford
 
A man who prosecutors say was “critically involved” in a stock conspiracy that defrauded as many as 17,000 people of a total of about $44 million was sentenced Thursday in Tulsa to seven years in prison.
 
Joshua Wayne Lankford, 39, fled to Costa Rica after the investigation came to light and then lied about his identity and background to avoid facing the charges against him, according to a document the prosecution filed May 1. “Specifically, Lankford claimed that he was a Costa Rican citizen — and even assumed the persona of an actual Costa Rican citizen — in a desperate attempt to avoid extradition,” U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney Andrew Warren wrote in the document.

Lankford, a Dallas resident, was one of five men indicted in Tulsa federal court in January 2009 on allegations that they plotted from 2004 through 2006 to “pump up” the stock of companies and then dump the stocks at the expense of thousands of investors.

FBI Special Agent Christina Brady testified last year that Lankford flew to Costa Rica on July 26, 2008, four days after Mark Byron Lindberg, 45, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire and securities fraud in a related case.

Lankford’s attorney, James Fatigante, said during Thursday’s hearing before U.S. District Judge James Payne that he believes it is unfair to label Lankford a “fugitive” because Lankford had not been charged when he went to Costa Rica. Lankford stayed in that country until being flown to Tulsa from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, in the custody of U.S. marshals last May 24.

He pleaded guilty Dec. 10 to a money-laundering charge. Warren’s filing alleges that Lankford “reaped approximately $7 million” from the stock manipulation alleged in the indictment. On Thursday, Lankford told the court that he left for Costa Rica in 2008 “out of fear.” He said his “intention wasn’t to go out and hurt people.”

George David Gordon, a 51-year-old former Tulsa attorney, was found guilty in May 2010 by a Tulsa federal jury of various charges in the case and was sentenced to 15 years and eight months in prison. Jurors were told during that trial that the conspiracy featured the pumping up of stock prices through meticulously coordinated trading and misleading promotions to create an artificial market for the stocks, followed by the dumping of the stock on the market. Also Thursday, co-defendant James Reskin, 54, of Louisville was sentenced by Payne to five years of probation with 200 hours of community service. Reskin pleaded guilty in March 2010 to a conspiracy charge and to misleading investigators with the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service during a meeting in March 2008. Reskin’s attorney, Stephen Knorr, told the court Thursday that Reskin played a minimal role and was involved in only one aspect of the overall plot.

Mittwoch, 21. August 2013

Why Did The UK Government Promote Worthless GT200 Detectors?

UK government promoted fake bomb detectors

Three departments found to have backed Kent businessman's fraudulent scheme to sell 'useless' detection equipment
Fake bomb detector
One of the devices sold by fraudster Gary Bolton. Photograph: City of London Police/PA
Three British government departments and agencies promoted the international sale of fake bomb detectors which are thought to have cost lives, despite a Whitehall-wide warning they were useless.
On Tuesday, Kent businessman Gary Bolton, 47, was jailed for seven years at the Old Bailey for fraud over the sale of thousands of devices based on novelty golf ball finders which he claimed could detect explosives and drugs but which detectives said were "nothing more than plastic handles with aerials as antennae".
In the aftermath of Bolton's sentencing, it can be revealed that the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the government's trade arm, UKTI, gave promotional, diplomatic and financial backing to Bolton over several years even though a Home Office expert in bomb detection equipment found his device's ability to detect explosives was no better than random. In Thailand, where hundreds of the bogus devices were sold under the brand GT200 for use at police and army checkpoints, human rights campaigners have reported they failed to detect bombs that then killed four people. Hundreds more have been wrongly imprisoned after the fake equipment indicated they had handled explosives.
The devices were sold to security hotspots including Pakistan, India and Egypt as well as Mexico, where authorities fighting a bloody drugs war bought 1,200 of the units.
On Tuesday night, ministers were under pressure to mount an urgent investigation into Whitehall's role in the trade, which one MP labelled "a national embarrassment". The devices cost Bolton as little as £1.82 to make but were sold for as much as £15,000 each, resulting in a trade worth up to £3m a year. Thomas Docherty, a Labour member of the House of Commons defence select committee, has written to the business secretary, Vince Cable, defence secretary, Philip Hammond, and foreign secretary, William Hague, saying that "there are serious questions to be answered by a number of government departments and agencies about their role in this sorry scandal".
A Home Office scientist who ran a test in 2001 that demonstrated the so-called bomb detector was useless said he had issued a written warning against the device which was circulated to at least 1,000 officials across Whitehall, the military and police departments. It was circulated before the government launched its cross-departmental promotional drive.
Despite the stark warning, in the years after 2001, members of the Royal Engineers took Bolton's products to several exhibitions and demonstrations in 2003 and 2004, including sales drives to the Bahrain Defence Force, Kuwait, Poland, France and Venezuela.
Between 2005 and 2009, the British embassy in Mexico and its ambassador, Giles Paxman, brother of the BBC presenter Jeremy Paxman, allowed Bolton's company, Global Technical, to use the embassy and ambassador's residence for sales pitches, while UKTI provided advice on overseas markets and supported Bolton to attend foreign trade shows through a programme which awards grants to meet exhibition costs.
"Before we spend taxpayers' money promoting British-made products we need the confidence of knowing they work," said Docherty. "This sort of thing undoubtedly damages our reputation with foreign governments and they are less likely to buy British again. The government needs to establish how this happened and how we avoid it happening again."
Sentencing Bolton on two counts of making and selling an article for use in fraud over a period of five years, Mr Justice Hone said: "The culpability and harm of what you were doing is at the highest level because when used for the detection of explosives, in my judgment the use of the GT200, albeit in conjunction with other detectors, did materially increase the risk of personal injury and death."
A government spokeswoman said it "is considering evidence presented at the trial and, following sentencing, will consider what further steps might be taken to avoid future similar events".
Scrutiny of the government's role could cause cabinet tensions, as the investigation by City of London police's anti-corruption unit was funded by the Department for International Development, whose secretary of state, Justine Greening, praised Bolton's conviction.
Bolton's conviction relates to the period from 2007 to 2012, but he set up his company near Ashford in Kent in 1997. In 1999 he paid the Royal Engineers Exports Support Team (REEST) £500 to test an early version of the invention, called the Mole. The army unit found it to be accurate only about 30% of the time, the court heard, but by 2000 Bolton began demonstrating the product in Malta, Egypt, Uganda and South Africa.
He altered reports produced by REEST and another by the Dutch navy, which tested it for use against drug smugglers in the Caribbean. The doctored versions claimed the device was "very accurate" and showed uniformed army staff pointing it at rows of houses and cars to detect explosives. It said the detector "looks for the atomic structure of the substance and once located locks on giving its location", and while the document acknowledged "the general consensus of opinion was that of not believing in the Mole's capability", it concluded that "this is soon overcome when put to the test". The MoD said it could not trace a copy of the original report.
Representatives of the Royal Engineers later expressed enthusiasm for the product, two government bomb detection experts have told the Guardian. This led to tests being carried out by concerned Home Office scientists in September 2001.
"We looked at what the probability was of it detecting a live box [containing explosives] and what it was with a blank box and it was about the same, so it was not effective," said Tim Sheldon, former programme manager for testing explosives, weapons and drugs detection equipment at the Home Office's Sandridge facility in Hertfordshire.
"The customer departments [believed to be the Home Office, MoD and Department for Transport] were told that and we put a page in that year's edition of the blue book [the approved list of detection kit for government and military use] saying there has been a lot of publicity around these devices and they don't work. That went out to a circulation of around 1,000 official users."
Following the trial, the business department has admitted that "UKTI provided advice on overseas markets through the Overseas Market Introduction Service and support to attend trade shows overseas through the Tradeshow Access Programme". In Mexico, "sales meetings sometimes took place in the embassy or the residence, occasionally with the presence of the ambassador," the court heard. Paxman even wrote to the state authorities in Sonora, which borders the US, "emphasising the excellence of the UK security industry".
Bolton's sentence follows that of his former business partner, Jim McCormick, who was jailed for 10 years in May for selling around £50m worth of similar devices, many to post-war Iraq, where their use is thought to have cost lives. Speaking in mitigation, Jonathan Higgs QC, said Bolton has three children, including a eight-month-old baby, and had been diagnosed with depression, which the judge said he was sceptical about given he was a fraudster.
In his remarks, the judge said Bolton's "glib salesmanship persuaded these agencies to support the sales" and concluded: "You have damaged the reputation of British trade abroad, having duped UKTI and other agencies dedicated to supporting the export of quality British goods as opposed to the dross that you manufactured."
At the time of his arrest last year Bolton admitted "he had no background in science, research, training or specifically security" and he called in his defence an expert in dowsing, a method of "divining" for water using sticks.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "The government supports thousands of British companies around the world each year in our efforts to help boost trade and investment. Global Technical received limited support from the embassy in Mexico prior to any suggestion that their activity was fraudulent."
The MoD declined to comment.

Dienstag, 20. August 2013

How Many Year's For Gary Bolton For Selling The GT200 Detectors?

Businessman Gary Bolton jailed over fake bomb detectors

The BBC's Ben Geoghegan: ''The judge said the harm of what he (Gary Bolton) had done was at the highest level''
A businessman who sold fake bomb detectors around the world has been jailed for seven years.
The devices made by Gary Bolton, 47, were simply boxes with handles and antennae, the Old Bailey heard.
The prosecution said he sold them for up to £10,000 each, claiming they could detect explosives. The trial heard the firm had a £3m annual turnover selling the homemade devices.

Start Quote

Soldiers, police officers, customs officers and many others put their trust in a device which worked no better than random chance”
Judge Richard Hone QC
Bolton, of Redshank Road, Chatham, Kent, had denied two charges of fraud.
As he passed sentence, Judge Richard Hone QC described the equipment as "useless" and "dross".
'No credibility'
The court was told Bolton knew the devices - which were also alleged to be able to detect drugs, tobacco, ivory and cash - did not work, but continued to supply them to be sold to overseas businesses.
They were made at Bolton's home and the premises of his company Global Technology Ltd, near Ashford, and sold in more than a dozen countries, including Mexico and Thailand.
One purchaser X-rayed a device and found nothing inside the box, the court was told.

In 2010, a Home Office defence expert tested Bolton's GT200 detector at the request of the Office of Fair Trading and found it had "no credibility as an explosive detector" because it had no functioning parts.
Judge Hone said Bolton maintained the "little plastic box" was a piece of working equipment, selling it to scores of international clients - including for use by armed forces - despite evidence proving it was "useless".
'Profits enormous'
"You were determined to bolster the illusion that the devices worked and you knew there was a spurious science to produce that end," he said.
"They had a random detection rate. They were useless.
"Soldiers, police officers, customs officers and many others put their trust in a device which worked no better than random chance.
"The jury found you knew this but you carried on. Your profits were enormous."
Jurors found Bolton guilty of a charge of making an article for use in the course of fraud and one of supplying an article for use in the course of fraud, between January 2007 and July last year.
The prosecution told the court Bolton had another fraudster's fake bomb detector in his house.
It was produced by James McCormick.
In a separate case, McCormick, 57, of Langport, Somerset, was jailed for 10 years in May for selling more than 7,000 fake detectors.
GT200

Freitag, 26. Juli 2013

Why Is Gary Bolton The Most Recent Convict For Explosive Detection Fraud For The GT200?

Gary Bolton
Gary Bolton had denied two charges of fraud

A businessman has been found guilty of making and selling fake bomb detectors.
The Old Bailey heard the devices made by Gary Bolton, 47, were nothing more than boxes with handles and antennae.
The prosecution said he sold them for up to £10,000 each, claiming they could detect explosives. The trial heard the company had a £3m annual turnover selling the homemade devices.
Bolton, of Redshank Road in Chatham, Kent, had denied two charges of fraud. Sentencing has been adjourned.
Richard Whittam QC, prosecuting, told the court that Bolton knew the devices - which were also alleged to be able to detect drugs, tobacco, ivory and cash - did not work but supplied them anyway to be sold to overseas businesses.
They were made at Bolton's home and at the premises of his company Global Technology Ltd, near Ashford.
Mr Whittam said one company X-rayed a device and found nothing inside the box.
GT200
X-rays on the GT200 showed the box to be empty

No functioning parts
Jurors found Bolton guilty of a charge of making an article for use in the course of fraud and one of supplying an article for use in the course of fraud between January 2007 and July last year.
The prosecution told the court that Bolton had another fraudster's fake bomb detector in his house.
It was produced by James McCormick.
In a separate case, the 57-year-old, of Langport, Somerset, was jailed for 10 years in May for selling more than 7,000 fake detectors.
Bolton claimed his own devices worked with a range of 766 yards (700m) at ground level and as far as two and a half miles (4km) in the air.
He claimed they were effective through lead-lined and metal walls, water, containers and earth.
In 2010 a Home Office defence expert tested Bolton's GT200 detector at the request of the Office of Fair Trading and found it had "no credibility as an explosive detector" because it had no functioning parts.
Further stringent "double-blind" tests carried out on the GT200 by Dr Michael Sutherland of the University of Cambridge found that it worked successfully twice in 24 tests searching for TNT, which was less than the probability of finding the explosives at random.
Bolton was invited to attend the tests in October 2010, but did not show up.
The GT200s were manufactured at premises near Ashford
The GT200s were manufactured at premises near Ashford
Favourable report
In his report, part of which was read to the court, Dr Sutherland said the device was "completely ineffectual as a piece of detection equipment".
In 1999, Bolton approached the Royal Engineers Exports Support Team (Reest), which promotes British equipment overseas, to produce a "Private Venture Report" on the earlier Mole detector.
They found that it was accurate about 30% of the time and could not be relied upon.
Despite this, two "letters of recommendation" from Reest, dated June 2003, were found at Bolton's offices.
They referred to the GT200, which went on sale in 2004 and which the engineers had never tested.
A favourable report from Reest was also produced in 2004 when Bolton sold a device to British American Tobacco (BAT).
After testing it, a company expert found it was ineffective and X-rayed it, revealing there was nothing inside the box.
Sentencing was adjourned to a later, unfixed date and Bolton was released on conditional bail.

Sonntag, 14. Juli 2013

How Was James McCormick Convicted Of Fraud For Selling Fake Bomb Detectors That Got People Killed?

In Iraq, the Bomb-Detecting Device That Didn't Work, Except to Make Money

By on July 11, 2013
On Dec. 9, 2009, Major General Jihad al-Jabiri, head of the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior’s bomb squad, held a press conference at the ministry officer’s club in Baghdad. Car bomb attacks in the city had killed 127 people and wounded at least 400 more the previous day, and al-Jabiri had come to answer criticism of the explosives-detection devices deployed at the city’s 1,400 checkpoints. To prove the effectiveness of the equipment, known as the ADE 651, al-Jabiri had arranged a live demonstration before the world’s TV cameras. Standing with him at a lectern bristling with microphones was Pierre Georgiou, the retired Lebanese general who had helped bring the device to Iraq. Alongside stood the manufacturer, a portly Englishman. His name was James McCormick.

Arranged on a table nearby were examples of household items Iraqi citizens often complained had set off the bomb detectors: bottles of shampoo and hot sauce; a plastic jar of pickles; two tubs of cream; and a box of tissues. A uniformed member of al-Jabiri’s bomb squad walked slowly forward, holding in his hand an ADE 651—a swiveling telescopic antenna mounted on a black plastic pistol grip and connected by a cable to a pouch on his belt. As he passed the table once, the antenna continued to point straight ahead. But after two hand grenades had been placed on the table, the bomb technician made a second pass, and the antenna slowly turned left and pointed directly at the explosives. Afterward, al-Jabiri assured the press that the ADE 651 had similarly located “hundreds of roadside bombs and car bombs.” McCormick dismissed U.S. military assertions that the detectors were worthless. “We’ve created a product that fits a demand here in Iraq,” he explained. “Just not necessarily in all countries.”

What McCormick failed to mention was that the device was not, strictly speaking, his own invention, or that he knew very well it wouldn’t detect explosives. The ADE 651 was modeled on a novelty trinket conceived decades before by a former used-car salesman from South Carolina, which was purported to detect golf balls. It wasn’t even good at that.
By the time police in Britain raided his offices nine days later, McCormick had spent three years selling the Iraqi government these devices, sometimes for more than $30,000 each. The best estimates suggest that the authorities in Baghdad bought more than 6,000 useless bomb detectors, at a cost of at least $38 million.


Few of the tales of graft and theft that emerged from the Iraq War—U.S. troops being sold $45 six-packs of soda or entire pallets of vacuum-sealed U.S. currency disappearing into the night—can match that of James McCormick, whose exploits were so preposterous they would seem purely comic if it weren’t for their lethal consequences. The ADE 651, and similar devices sold by McCormick over the decade or so he spent in the explosives-detection business, owe their existence to Wade Quattlebaum, president of Quadro in Harleyville, S.C. At the beginning of the 1990s, Quattlebaum—a sometime car dealer, commercial diver, and treasure hunter whose formal education ended in high school—began promoting a new detection technology he called the Quadro Tracker Positive Molecular Locator, which he claimed could help law enforcement agencies find everything from contraband to missing persons. Quattlebaum said he originally invented the device to find lost balls on the golf course but had since refined it to locate marijuana, cocaine, heroin, gunpowder, and dynamite by detecting the individual “molecular frequency” of each substance.

The Tracker consisted of a handheld unit, with an antenna mounted on a plastic handgrip, and a belt-mounted box slightly smaller than a VHS cassette, built to contain “carbo-crystallized” software cards programmed, Quattlebaum said, with the specific frequency of whatever the user wished to find. No batteries were necessary. The Tracker was powered by the static electricity created by the operator’s own body; when it found what it was looking for, the antenna automatically turned to point at its quarry. Prices for the device varied from $395 for a basic model to $8,000 for one capable of locating individual human beings, which required a Polaroid photograph of the person to be loaded into the programming box. Quadro’s golf ball-finding variant, the Gopher, was available by mail order for just $69.

That Quattlebaum’s gizmo operated independently of any known scientific principles didn’t hurt sales. By the end of 1995, distributors across the U.S. had sold about 1,000 Quadro Trackers to customers including police departments in Georgia and Illinois and school districts in Kansas and Florida. When Ronald Kelly, the agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s office in Beaumont, Tex., learned that a local narcotics task force had bought one, he attended a demonstration in which a Tracker was used to find a brick of cocaine. He wasn’t impressed. “I paid reasonable attention in eighth grade science,” Kelly says now. “I pronounced this bulls—.”

Kelly instructed his agents to bring in an example of the device, ran it through the X-ray machine at the Beaumont courthouse to see what was inside it, and sent it to the FBI labs in Washington. “They said, ‘This is a car antenna and a plastic handle. It doesn’t do anything.’ ”

Further analysis by the FBI and Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico established that Quadro’s programming cards were small squares of photocopy paper sandwiched between pieces of plastic. Dale Murray, who examined the device at Sandia, discovered that the Quadro programming method was to take a Polaroid photograph of the desired target—gunpowder, cocaine, or on one occasion, an elephant—blow up the image on a Xerox machine, cut up the copy into fragments, and use these to provide the card with its “molecular signature.” “They had a very naive explanation of how it worked,” Murray says. “They were fascinated by Polaroid photographs.”

Although Kelly is unequivocal about the Quadro principals’ fraudulent intent—“They were con artists,” he says—Murray feels that Quattlebaum, at least, genuinely had faith in it. “I think he did believe in it—it was his invention,” he says. Quattlebaum could have fallen victim to the ideomotor effect, the same psychological phenomenon that convinces users of dowsing rods and Ouija boards that they are witnessing the results of a powerful yet inexplicable force. In response to suggestion or expectation, the body can produce unconscious movements, causing a sensitive, free-swinging mechanism to respond in sympathy. “It’s very compelling, if you’re not aware of what’s causing it,” Murray says.

In January 1996, a federal judge in eastern Texas enjoined the manufacture and sale of the Quadro Tracker and all its variants across the U.S. Kelly issued a bulletin warning law enforcement agencies to beware of the device, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office began criminal proceedings against Quadro’s four principals. At the trial, the prosecution fielded numerous expert witnesses to demonstrate that the Quadro Tracker had no scientific validity and that the device didn’t contain any electronics but was simply an empty box. Yet the jury failed to find the men guilty of intent to commit fraud, and three of the principals were acquitted. Company secretary Malcolm Stig Roe—an irascible 68-year-old Englishman who claimed to be an electrical engineer and to have performed secret work during military service in the Middle East—jumped bail before the trial began.

In 1997, Roe resurfaced in the U.K., where he established two companies: Detection Laboratories and Detection Devices International. In the years that followed, as the War on Terror triggered a gold rush for the security industry, further dowsing rod detectors with numerous names and designs—Sniffex, Alpha 6, GT200—spread gradually across the globe, marketed by a carousel of frauds and con artists. James McCormick turned out to be the most enterprising of them all.


Born in Liverpool in 1956, McCormick didn’t stand out as an adolescent. Described by one contemporary as a quiet boy reluctant to make himself heard in conversations with friends, he left school at 18. In the mid-1970s he joined the Merseyside Police and spent two years as a trainee, but quit before formally becoming an officer. Soon after he left for the U.S., joining his father, who had settled in New Jersey. When he returned to Liverpool more than a decade later, the shy teenager had disappeared, replaced by a slick, confident salesman specializing in communications equipment, such as pagers and police and military radios. In 2000, McCormick contacted a childhood friend then serving in the Merseyside Police force and invited him to a demonstration of a new technology.
At the headquarters of the British Army’s Corps of Royal Engineers in Chatham, in Kent in South East England, the two men watched as troops demonstrated the capabilities of the Mole Programmable Substance Detector. (His colleague, who later traveled to Africa with him, asked not to be identified.) Using a swiveling antenna mounted on a plastic handle and a set of software cards, the manufacturer claimed it could locate explosives, drugs, ivory, and human beings. The Royal Engineers put on an impressive display, successfully using the device to find explosives and other ordnance at their barracks. McCormick signed up to become an international agent for the device. It wasn’t cheap—as an agent, he later told the police, he had to pay the manufacturer £10,000 ($14,900) for a single unit—but, using his contacts from the communications industry, McCormick began to organize demonstrations of the Mole for customers around the world, from Mexico to Uzbekistan.
In 2001 one of McCormick’s associates from the two-way radio business, Robert Balais, approached the Rocky Mountain regional office of the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center in Denver, wanting to sell them the device. Balais said he would be happy to come in and provide a demonstration of the Mole’s capabilities. Officials at the center agreed and said they would conduct their own test. Then they called Sandia National Laboratories, with which they had a partnership, to help assess the technology.

When Dale Murray arrived in Denver a few weeks later, he knew he’d seen the Mole before. It was identical in every way to the Quadro Tracker—down to the patterns of stippling on the plastic handle. “It looked like someone had taken the injection molding from one location to another and just put a different label on it,” he says. Although he was confident the Mole was as ridiculous as its predecessor, Murray subjected it to a carefully devised double-blind experiment, with Balais seeking a sample of C4 explosive hidden in the offices. “I knew that without doing a rigorous scientific test, there would be people that would be unconvinced,” Murray says. “So we treated it exactly the same way we would any other piece of scientific gear.”

Only Balais seemed surprised when the Mole failed. At the start of the trial, when he could see where the C4 had been placed, the equipment scored perfectly; once the double-blind sequence began, it performed no better than chance. When Sandia published its results, Balais, McCormick, and the manufacturers in the U.K. were furious. They protested that the experiment had been mishandled. Balais lost his franchise arrangement, and the manufacturers withdrew the Mole from sale soon afterward. But another detector just like it soon appeared on the market under a new name, the GT200.

McCormick wasn’t discouraged. Moving with his wife and two children to Somerset, a rural county in South West England, he began work on his own detector business. From his converted farmhouse at a bend in a picturesque lane, McCormick started a new company, Advanced Tactical Security & Communications, or ATSC, with a new line of products. His devices, marketed under the brand name Advanced Detection Equipment, looked remarkably similar to the Mole and the Quadro Tracker but used a “proprietary application of electrostatic ion attraction” and sported even more extraordinary capabilities than their predecessors. According to sales brochures, the equipment could locate explosives, narcotics, cash, diamonds, gold, ivory, and, using a “human recognition card,” missing persons—even underwater, underground, or from an aircraft flying up to three miles overhead.
Photograph by Pauline Beaudemont for Bloomberg BusinessWeek

McCormick traveled the world to demonstrate his devices, usually in countries where government was weak and procurement processes slack. In 2003 he and Balais conducted training on the devices in the Dominican Republic; in video footage seen by British police, McCormick gives a presentation in which he boasts of his equipment detecting elephants in Africa from 30 miles away. In May 2004 he made his first sale of a device, now called the ADE 650, to security forces in Kenya. The following year he made contact with sales agents in the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, and Syria; he sold a single device in Singapore and another in Japan.

As sales grew, he consulted British industrial designers and plastics manufacturers to discuss the next generation of ADE detectors and ordered a few dozen of a new, slightly larger device with a more robust pistol grip. “It was just more plastic molding to us,” says Ian Low, director of Merriott Plastics, a supplier of industrial components in Somerset, with whom McCormick discussed large-scale production of the devices. “He seemed like any other businessman.”

In the meantime, McCormick approached Minnesota Global, a mail-order business in Minneapolis, the manufacturer of the Lil’ Orbits doughnut-making machine and the distributor of the remaining stock of the Gopher golf ball finder. At the end of 2005 he ordered 100 golf ball detectors from Minnesota at $19.50 each and, a few months later, 200 more. In his garage in Somerset, he later told police, he programmed these for “electrostatic ion attraction” using a collection of jam jars and spice pots that contained samples of drugs and explosives. In each jar, he placed small colored stickers and left them for a week to absorb the vapor of whatever substance his customers might wish to detect. The samples included cannabis; folded fragments of a Japanese 1,000 yen note; and a piece of gauze McCormick had used to staunch a nosebleed, which he later explained was used to aid in human detection. After a sticker had spent a week absorbing vapor, he glued it inside the Gopher. He then removed the plastic badge that identified it as a golf ball finder, and replaced it with one bearing ATSC’s logo. This became the ADE 100—sold for the first time, in March 2006, to McCormick’s agents in Lebanon. Price: $3,000 each.

In 2006, McCormick and his contacts in Lebanon and Jordan saw a chance to take advantage of the funding then flooding Iraq. The country was being engulfed by civil war, and bombs—improvised explosive devices—were everywhere. Detection at the checkpoints that choked Baghdad relied almost entirely on searches conducted by hand. Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology were working on a sensitive sniffing device, but it would only detect TNT and was a year away from completion. In his garage in Somerset, however, McCormick said he’d perfected a handheld device that could find the most elusive and powerful explosives, including C4 and RDX. The ADE 651 came equipped with a card reader and a selection of laminated cards, programmed with the appropriate molecular signature for each substance. Without the proper training package, he explained, technology as finely calibrated as this would be almost useless. It was the cost of this vital instruction that pushed up the price for the now top-of-the-line ADE 651, sometimes to more than $30,000 each.

McCormick’s claims might have seemed far-fetched, but his equipment was marked with the insignia of the International Association of Bomb Technicians. In January 2007 the Iraqi Interior Ministry awarded the first of five no-bid contracts to ATSC and its agents for a total of £11 million. Back in Somerset, Merriott Plastics began tooling up for the largest production run yet of the ADE 651.AP Photo (4); Getty Images (5); Redux (3); Reuters (6)


When the first alert about McCormick came across Detective Sergeant Steve Mapp’s desk in 2007, he paid little attention. At the time, Mapp—burly, scruffy beard, meaty handshake, just shy of 30 years on the force—was in charge of the financial investigation unit of Avon and Somerset Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Team. A specialist in money laundering, Mapp receives about 3,500 pieces of intelligence every year. Many are generated by the U.K.’s Suspicious Activity Reporting System, which requires banks to pass on information about questionable income coming in from abroad.

In the summer of 2008 the system raised a second warning about McCormick’s accounts, noting large amounts of money wired from the Middle East and account transfers with no obvious business purpose. Mapp asked one of his officers, based near McCormick’s home in Somerset, to look into ATSC. By then a handful of bloggers had dedicated pages to the failings of the company’s products, and a few hours on Google revealed there might be more to McCormick’s business than a few financial irregularities. The officer called banks, tax and customs services, explosives experts, and the Ministry of Defence, and found McCormick and his devices were connected not only to the Middle East but also to other salesmen of similar equipment in Britain. In October 2009, Mapp took his findings to a meeting in London at the headquarters of the Serious Fraud Office, the British government department dedicated to investigating complex financial crimes. But the office thought the evidence was too thin. Mapp returned to Avon and Somerset Police headquarters just outside Bristol and, early the following month, met with a handful of colleagues to formally convene the investigation into McCormick and ATSC. They needed evidence, so they began planning a raid.

By the end of 2009, McCormick owned a holiday home in the Mediterranean; a Range Rover; a dressage pony and stables for his daughter; a million-dollar yacht named Blue Crystal; new houses for his father and mother-in-law; and a large extension to the family home in Somerset. He had also spent £3.5 million on an elegant Georgian townhouse in Bath, purchased from the actor Nicolas Cage.

Yet when a dozen officers of the Avon and Somerset Police entered the McCormick home on a bitterly cold morning a few days before Christmas that year, it was strikingly ordinary, cramped and cluttered with bric-a-brac; the recently finished rooms in the new extension contained nothing but a gigantic flat-screen TV and a pair of leather-upholstered lounge chairs. It was almost as if McCormick couldn’t imagine how to spend his money once he had it. When the police simultaneously raided the nearby ATSC offices, they found he’d made little effort to ensure the operation lived up to its billing as a transglobal security concern: ADE 651 devices worth thousands of dollars lay tangled in open cardboard boxes on the floor, and the company accounts defied rational explanation. A few weeks later, McCormick was arrested, and the British government banned the export of the detectors to Iraq and Afghanistan.

In her 18 years as a fraud investigator, Detective Constable Niki White has met a lot of confidence men; she knows one when she sees one, and McCormick was no different. “A little bit arrogant, full of himself. Didn’t like it when he was pushed into a corner. And when you challenged his ideas, he had one of those sardonic laughs, as if to say ‘You stupid woman,’ ” she says. “Typical fraudster, really.”
From the beginning, Mapp and White faced the same challenge that had defeated American prosecutors in the Quadro Tracker case: They had to provide evidence not only that the devices didn’t work, but also that the individuals selling them knew they didn’t. The first part was relatively simple: Experts at the explosives research department of the Ministry of Defence tested and cut open examples of each of ATSC’s products and established that they were essentially toys. Even if the purported principle of molecular detection powered by static electricity was to be believed, the components of the ADE 651 didn’t make sense: The connecting wires inside stopped short of making contact, and the pistol grip was molded from plastic and could never conduct a current; the antenna, one scientist later testified, was “no more a radio antenna than a nine-inch nail.” The detectives found McCormick had abandoned the programming idea as soon as his order book swelled, and the wands sent to Iraq didn’t even have his colored stickers inside them. Instead, he had invested in more convincing packaging, shipping out each device with packs of cotton gloves and hand sanitizer in an expensive Pelican carrying case. “All cosmetic,” Mapp says. “The case is worth more than the contents.”

Mapp and White spent two years trying to prove McCormick knew his products didn’t work. They made inquiries in more than 20 countries and went to Belgium, France, Georgia, Lebanon, and Bahrain. They discovered he had sold more than 7,000 devices to agencies including the Hong Kong police, the Romanian airport authorities, the United Nations, and the Mövenpick hotel group. Most had been sold to Iraq, where an Interior Ministry investigation would eventually show that corruption on a titanic scale had made the ATSC contracts possible. In a 2011 Report to Congress, the Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction estimated that 75 percent of the value of McCormick’s sales had been spent on bribes. Officials including the bomb squad’s Major General al-Jabiri would be imprisoned for their part in the procurement process.

Few of the sales elsewhere were so obviously explained by kickbacks. The Belgian police paid at least €20,000 each for four devices, only to have them revealed by trials at a military test center to be worthless. On those occasions when he was challenged about the detectors, McCormick responded in the same way: The operators weren’t properly trained; the tests were faulty; the environment was contaminated. If you asked him how a device worked, he’d tell you he didn’t know exactly—it just did.

Throughout the 10 years he peddled his equipment, McCormick never wavered on this point. The detectives could uncover no evidence that he ever confided to anyone, in correspondence or conversation, that he had anything but the greatest confidence in the effectiveness of his products. He came close to cracking in 2008 on a trip to provide training on the ADE equipment to police and army officers in Niger. He was with the friend who had attended the Royal Engineers’ demonstration. During the 10 days they spent in Africa, McCormick’s colleague—who until then had believed the devices were legitimate—heard complaints about them from his African students and became suspicious. As they left Niger on an Air France plane, he raised his concerns with McCormick, who, offended, assured him the complaints were idiotic. The two men argued so heatedly that the cabin crew separated them. Deplaning in Paris, the colleague explained that if the equipment they were selling didn’t work, he would have nothing more to do with it; people’s lives were at risk. “Suit yourself. But you’re walking away from millions,” McCormick replied. “It does exactly what it’s supposed to do,” he said. “It makes money.”

In the end, the British detectives couldn’t find a single damning piece of evidence that made the case against McCormick. Instead, they pieced together 10 years of lesser falsehoods. He claimed to have a doctorate in psychology, which he didn’t; he pretended to be a member of the International Association of Bomb Technicians, which he wasn’t; and when he was told by Sandia Labs that the so-called technology was useless, he just gave it a new name and went on selling it. “All those little things, they’re all a bit of the picture,” Mapp says. “If you believed in your device and knew that it worked, you wouldn’t need to do that.”

When his six-week trial began in London in March, McCormick continued to insist the devices were all that he said they were. He had never received any complaints from his customers, he told the court. The prosecution was unable to prove conclusively that the ADE 651 caused specific deaths in Iraq—although evidence submitted in writing from the Iraqi Inspector General’s office showed that, at one point, insurgents loaded a vehicle with rockets and explosives and successfully drove it through 23 checkpoints in Baghdad where the device was used. But it made no difference to the jury. McCormick was found guilty of three counts of fraud and in May sentenced to 10 years in prison.
“I am wholly satisfied that your fraudulent conduct in selling so many useless devices for simply enormous profit promoted a false sense of security, and in all probability materially contributed to causing death and injury to innocent individuals,” the judge told an impassive McCormick. “You have neither insight, shame, nor any sense of remorse. Even now you insist they work, in a vain effort to minimize your culpability. You fought the case in the teeth of overwhelming evidence. In a last desperate gamble, you rolled the dice with the jury and lost.”
It was the first time in either of their long careers that Mapp or White had heard a judge hand down the maximum sentence in anything other than a murder case.


A week later, in an interview room in a drab and unmarked concrete office building beside a canal in the center of Bristol, I ask detectives Mapp and White if they know of anywhere that McCormick’s devices are still in use. “Try Iraq, for starters,” Mapp says. Despite the trial and the continuing investigation by the Inspector General of the Iraqi Interior Ministry into the ATSC fraud, the ADE 651 is still being used at thousands of checkpoints across Baghdad. Elsewhere, authorities have never stopped believing in the detectors, says Mapp. “In Kenya they said, ‘No, we know about Mr. McCormick’s conviction, but we’re really glad we’ve got them—and they do work.’ ”
According to Sandia Labs’ Murray, the ideomotor effect is so persuasive that for anyone who wants or needs to believe in it, even conclusive scientific evidence undermining the technology it exploits has little power. “It’s very easy for a person to convince themselves that it works,” he says. “It’s been around for many centuries, and I don’t see that going away.”

Since McCormick’s conviction, British authorities have attempted to prosecute other manufacturers of similar devices, with mixed success. The individual behind the Alpha 6 was acquitted of fraud in June; the trial of Gary Bolton, who sold the Mole and the GT200, is continuing. Malcolm Roe, now in his eighties, is no longer wanted by the FBI, but spends much of his time in the contested territory of Northern Cyprus, where British police have found him hard to reach. “He’s a very old man now,” says Roe’s former solicitor. “He’s wary of certain very powerful organizations, shall we say.”
Even so, the devices themselves continue to resurface. One of the first actions McCormick took while on bail after his first arrest was to find the tooling he’d had made to produce the ADE 651 and ship it out of the country. The last the British police knew, it was headed to Bucharest. “It’s still out there somewhere,” Mapp says. “And it’s probably still making moldings.”

Freitag, 26. April 2013

What Does It Look Like When The Seller Of The ADE-651 Is Convicted Of Fraud?

Conman James McCormick sold golf ball finders as bomb detectors in £50m global scam

A court heard the Advanced Selection Equipment devices had no scientific basis and were based on a £13 American novelty

 
 

A millionaire businessman conned buyers around the world into thinking novelty golf ball finders were bomb detectors.

Jim McCormick, 56, was found guilty at London's Old Bailey today of three counts of fraud after jurors heard the devices did not work. McCormick made an estimated £50 million from sales of his three models to Iraq, Belgium and even the United Nations for use in Lebanon. But, the court heard, the Advanced Selection Equipment devices had no scientific basis and were based on a £13 American novelty golf ball finder.

Some of the detectors were sold for £27,000 each and McCormick is thought to have made about £37 million from sales to Iraq alone. There is no evidence that he tried to sell to the Ministry of Defence, but an MoD inspector watched a demonstration organised by an Essex policeman. The detectors were marketed to the military, police forces and governments around the world using glossy brochures and the internet. Men dressed in military-type fatigues were shown using the detectors to find explosives, drugs, fluids, ivory and people.

Richard Whittam QC, prosecuting, said fantastic claims were made that the detectors could find substances from planes, under water, under ground and through walls. They claimed to be able to bypass "all known forms of concealment" and be able to detect at distance. Items could be detected up to 0.6 miles underground, up to 3 miles from the air and 100ft underwater, it was said.
ADE-651 Detector

But Mr Whittam added: "The devices did not work and he knew they did not work.

"He had them manufactured so that they could be sold - and despite the fact they did not work, people bought them for a handsome but unwarranted profit. "He made them knowing that they were going to be sold as something that it was claimed was simply fantastic. You may think those claims are incredible." Mr Whittam said: "The devices that were sold were expensive. There was no fixed price but the ADE 651 could be sold for as much as 40,000 US dollars."

Experts said the ADE 651 "lacks any grounding in science, nor does it work in accordance with the known laws of physics ... completely ineffectual as a piece of detection equipment". It was no better than trying to detect explosives at random, said Mr Whittam. The devices were sold by McCormick and his companies along with training and "sensor cards", the court heard.

Mr Whittam told the jury McCormick bought 300 Golfinder novelty machines for finding golf balls from the US between 2005 and 2006. It was advertised as a "great novelty item" which used the customer's body to "energise its actions".

The forerunner of the 101 model, the 100 "was actually a golf ball finder that could be purchased in the USA for less than 20 US dollars". Mr Whittam added: "During 2007 the volume of devices required by James McCormick increased. He said this was due to a large contract he had obtained with the Iraqi government." Mr Whittam said: "The devices were sold to a number of countries. The ADE 651 was mainly for use in Iraq." They were also sold in Niger and Georgia.
ADE-651 Detector Kit With Cards



Sensor cards slotted into the machine were colour-coded - orange for explosives, blue for drugs and red for humans.

McCormick used an International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators' logo which he was not entitled to use.

After his arrest, he said he heard of the technology in 1994 and reinvented it with the hand-held devices. Using basic school physics, he came up with a mock version which worked and "the rest is history", added Mr Whittam.

McCormick had also said: "It's a phenomenon. It's been known for a number of years."

McCormick, a former policeman and salesman, told the court he sold his detectors to police in Kenya, the prison service in Hong Kong, the army in Egypt and border control in Thailand.
He said one of them had been used to check a hotel in Romania before the visit of an American president in the 90s. He said: "I never had any negative results from customers."

McCormick shook his head after the verdicts were delivered. He was remanded on conditional bail to be sentenced on May 2. Speaking outside court, detective superintendent Nigel Rock of Avon and Somerset Police described McCormick as "a conman".

He said: "We have heard evidence from many, many experts, scientists, leaders in their field, who have said this was a fraud. A sham."

"Today he (McCormick) has rightly been convicted by the jury. The investigation has been a far-reaching, complex one, done over a period of three to four years. James McCormick is a conman. He will continue to be a conman. A man who's made millions of dollars is now convicted."

He added: "That device has been used and is still being used on checkpoints. People using that device believe it works. It does not."

 

Montag, 30. Juli 2012

What Do Thai Citizens Think Of GT200 And Alpha 6?


Better to play Russian roulette


It seems that our generals value their face more than the lives of their men, as shown by the GT200 and Alpha 6 bomb detectors.


A total of 1,576 of these detectors were bought by 13 agencies, with the Ordinance Department being the biggest buyer, putting out Bt300 million of your money and mine to buy 697 GT200 units.

Our Ministry of Science and Technology tested the GT200 and Alpha 6 many times, and found they had a one-in-five chance of being successful in detecting a bomb. That's like having our bomb squads play Russian roulette every day, with four of the five chambers in their revolvers loaded. They'd have a far higher chance of living if they flipped a coin.

And yet Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat and Supreme Commander Thanasak Patimakorn insist that the devices are effective, and they continue to be used.

For the generals to about-face and admit they've been scammed would make them lose a lot of face. It would also open the way for an unwanted investigation by the National Anti-Corruption Commission - especially since ACM Sukumpol was responsible for the purchase, when he was Air Force chief of staff.

How sad that our generals seem to place their personal interests above their men's lives.

How sad, too, that neither Pheu Thai nor the red shirts, who claim to represent the lowly enlisted men whose lives are daily at stake in the deep South, don't raise a stink about it - and neither do you, dear reader, even though those men are dying for you.

Burin Kantabutra

Why Can't Some Thai Officials Admit A Mistake?


Security forces spend $30 million on fake ‘bomb detectors’


BANGKOK — Thailand’s security forces bought more than 1,500 fake “bomb detectors” for $30 million, investigators say, and the armycurrently deploys them against Islamist rebels despite a U.S. Embassywarning that the devices are as useless as “a toy.”
The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) announced this month that the manufacturers and distributors of the devices fraudulently sold them to Thailand's military, narcotics bureau, airports and other security agencies. The DSI has sent the case to the National Anti-Corruption Commission for further investigation.
About a dozen government agencies purchased 1,576 the hand-held units, called GT200 and Alpha 6.
Despite the investigation and the U.S. Embassy warning, Thailand’s top defense officials insist the devices work.
“Do not say the GT200 used as a bomb detector in the far south does not work,” Defense Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat said last week, referring to southern Thailand where 40,000 troops are fighting Muslim separatists. “It has often detected explosives.”
More than 5,000 people have died in the conflict since 2004, and many were killed by bombs.
In 2006, the air force became the first Thai government department to buy the units. Mr. Sukumpol was the air force chief of staff at the time.
The army then purchased more than 750 GT200s, reportedly endorsed by Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is now army chief.
“I have seen the effectiveness of GT200 detectors in finding explosives,” the military’s SupremeCommander Thanasak Patimapakorn said last week.
However, some observers believe the military simply refuses to admit they made a mistake.
“For the military to admit that they were duped into buying useless bomb detectors … may invite unwanted investigation into suspected corruption,” wrote Bangkok Post’s former editor Veera Prateepchaikulearlier this month.
There is no public evidence of wrongdoing by military officials linked to the contracts.
After 2006, the Border Patrol Police Bureau, the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, the Justice Ministry’s Institute of Forensic Science, the Customs Department and other agencies purchased hundreds more of the devices.
The Defense Ministry’s Royal Aide-de-Camp Department — responsible for the security of Thailand’s king, queen, crown prince and other royal family members — also bought the equipment.
The DSI said a British company, ComsTrac, produced and sold GT200s and Alpha 6s to Thailand. The black devices include a small plastic box topped with a plastic cylinder, which can be gripped by hand.
However, British explosives expert Sidney Alford discovered the device was useless after examining one.
“That is an empty plastic case,” he told the British Broadcasting Corp. in 2010 after opening a GT200.
Mr. Alford added that a so-called “detection card,” which is supposed to be inserted into the device to identify explosives or drugs, is nothing more than a useless piece of paper.
The device also contains a collapsible, radio-style metal antenna that sticks out of the cylinder and swivels, supposedly to detect something. During security checks, nervous troops are ordered to slowly wave the device, making its antenna sway.
The army is still using most of its 750 GT200s in three Muslim-majority southern provinces where ethnic Malay-Thai Islamist guerrillas are fighting to secede from Thailand, which is 95 percent Buddhist.
Abhisit Vejjajiva, prime minister in 2010, said his government banned further purchases of the devices but allowed them to be used by the agencies that already had purchased them — even after discovering they were basically useless.
“We have done a double-blind test where the equipment was only successful in discovering [explosives] in 20 percent of the cases, when just a random choice would give you 25 percent,” he said.
In February 2010, the American Embassy in Bangkok alerted the U.S. National Security Council, Defense Intelligence Agency, CIA, and the Pentagon about Thailand’s use of the GT200.
A “confidential” report, released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, said the GT200 “looked and felt like a toy.”
The report said bomb squads in southern Thailand told embassy officials that “they never thought it worked, but they were ordered to use it.”
“To most people, the GT200 appears to be a glorified dowsing rod,” the embassy said.