Mittwoch, 24. Juni 2015

What Happened With ADE 651?

The $80 Million Fake Bomb-Detector Scam—and the People Behind It

When Baghdad bought tens of millions of dollars’ worth of British-made A.D.E. 651s, advertised as a foolproof bomb detector, the Iraqi government thought it would be saving countless lives. But the devices were laughable—based on a toy—and, in the end, have led to many deaths. Iraq is not the only country that has been fooled.
On a Sunday morning in the fall of 2009, a 26-seat bus carrying one ton of explosives made its way toward the Ministry of Justice in Baghdad. Security in Iraq had been improving for more than a year. A U.S. troop surge seemed to have worked, and in a demonstration of the country’s stability, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had ordered security measures reduced. Blast walls were taken down. Traffic was allowed closer to government buildings.
The bus was not searched at any of the checkpoints near the administrative center. The driver pulled right up to the ministry building, and then the payload detonated with such tremendous force that, to those nearby, it felt as if a meteor had struck. Cars spun through the air and landed on top of one another; debris rocketed through windows a dozen stories above the street. As an opaque plume of smoke and dust rose hundreds of feet into the air, a van carrying another bomb exploded just up the street, in front of the Provincial Administration building.
In a matter of seconds, 155 people had been killed and more than 500 injured. Iraq’s most hopeful post-Saddam interlude was over, shattered by a new wave of devastating bombings. Two days later, a little-known Al Qaeda–linked group, who would later take on the name ISIS, claimed credit. But the government was less concerned with who had carried it out than with how the attack was even possible: How could nearly 4,000 pounds of explosives have passed, undetected, into one of the city’s most tightly controlled areas?
The first impulse was to look for infiltrators and collaborators. Some 60 suspects who had worked at checkpoints and local police posts near the bombings were rounded up. But the real problem, it turned out, was with the handheld bomb detectors being used at just about every Iraqi-run checkpoint in the country. They were toys. They had never worked. It had all been an expensive charade—costing the Iraqi government tens of millions of dollars and hundreds of lives—engineered by a portly middle-aged salesman in Britain.
War has always provided a deep reservoir for profiteers. A wash of international money floods into countries torn by conflict, and those countries often have little capacity for oversight. This opportunity was exploited by an unlikely group of con artists, including a couple from outside London, an elderly eccentric from the United States, a former security-equipment salesman from Sevenoaks, in Kent, and a policeman turned telecommunications worker from Hambridge, in Somerset. They eventually fell out and went their separate ways, but one of them, managing his global operation out of a sleepy West Country town, would earn at least $80 million from his scam.
The “bomb detectors” sold to Iraq—and, it would later emerge, the versions bought by security forces in dozens of other countries—were based on a gag gift that had been around for decades. When the group modified the devices to sell them all over the world, they invented technical-sounding names like the A.D.E. 651, the Quadro Tracker, the Positive Molecular Locator, the Alpha 6, and the GT200. But all of them were simply rebranded versions of a hollow, five-ounce plastic toy sold as “Gopher: The Amazing Golf Ball Finder!,” whose packaging claims, limply, that “you may never lose a golf ball again!” Even as a toy, the Gopher is unimpressive. It would barely pass muster as a prop in a fourth grader’s camcorded Star Warstribute. It consists of a cheap plastic handle with a free-swinging antenna, and the way it works is simple: When you tilt the device to the right, the antenna swings right. When you tilt it to the left, the antenna swings left. If you’ve been primed by the right sales pitch, you believe that the antenna has moved as a result of something called nuclear quadrupole resonance, or electrostatic attraction, or low-frequency radio waves bouncing off the ionosphere—each force supposedly drawing the antenna toward the substance you’re scanning for, such as, in the beginning, “the elements used in all golf balls.” Because the salesman is glib and confident, or because people around you aren’t questioning it, or because your superior has ordered you to use it, you ignore the far more obvious force that has actually moved the antenna: gravity.
There’s a psychological phenomenon at play, too. It’s known as the ideometer effect, and it’s the same dynamic that sells Ouija boards: you move something, but persuade yourself you didn’t move it on your own. The phenomenon has been known for centuries—at least since prospectors began using dowsing rods to look for oil and water.
Left: The ADE-651 was said to be able to detect the presence of a variety of explosives. A single unit could be sold for as much as $40,000. Right: The “Gopher” golf-ball finder on which the fake bomb detectors are based.
Photographs by James Mollison.
Over the years, the modifications that turned the Gopher into the Advanced Detection Equipment 651 bomb detector were entirely cosmetic. The device was shipped to customers in a ruggedized plastic briefcase with a hard-foam interior, the kind of case used in spy movies to carry disassembled sniper rifles. The container was the most expensive, and impressive, part of the whole unit. The device had a pistol-like grip and a barrel from which sprouted an antenna. It came with a holster and an assortment of laminated cards, each labeled with the substance it would program the device to detect. Depending on which card you put in the holster, you could look for different types of explosives, as well as narcotics, ivory, and other contraband.
Some versions of the device had small circuit boards, but the boards were never connected to anything. Some had telephone cables leading to a belt, but when customers complained that this made the device unwieldy, the cable was simply removed. Some had a coaxial cable that appeared to connect one component of the device to another, but actually had no function at all. None of the devices ever had working electronics, so users were sometimes instructed to “prime” the A.D.E. 651 by generating static electricity. Iraqi security forces began doing a kind of foot-dragging, tiny-stepped geisha dance, like a child in a footie shuffling across a carpet and trying to make sparks. They looked ridiculous. When rumors began to circulate that the device was being thrown off by, of all things, cologne, the farce reached new heights. At checkpoints, perfume bottles were removed from vehicles.
Though the device seems plainly absurd, the list of victims is long and far-reaching. The A.D.E. was sold to the Lebanese army, to the Mexican army, to the police in Belgium, and to the Mövenpick Hotel Group’s property in Bahrain. It was sold in Romania and the republic of Georgia. In Asia, there were clients in Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Pakistan, and Vietnam. In the Middle East, the device made it to Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran. In Africa, it was bought by Kenya, Libya, Niger, and Tunisia.
But no country went for the A.D.E. the way Iraq did. By 2009, the device was everywhere.
Jim McCormick was born in Liverpool in 1956, just as a teenage John Lennon was starting The Quarrymen, and viewed from a distance, McCormick’s life seems ordinary. There were, if one looks closely, small hints along the way that he had a casual relationship with the truth: an old conference brochure, for example, on which he appears with the unearned title “Dr.” before his name. In school his grades were neither exemplary nor notably poor. He spent his childhood in the U.S., where his father lived, and eventually moved to England. Except for a two-year stint as a policeman in the U.K., he spent the beginning of his career in telecommunications. In the early 1980s he worked on the sales team for a radio-components company in Arizona, and in 1984 he took a job with Pye Electronics, where he worked for nearly a decade, until the company was subsumed by Philips. In 1993 he started a company that sold electronic equipment in Africa. His personal life was unexceptional: He lived in a quiet country town in Somerset. He married and had two children.
Though unspectacular, McCormick’s life proved to be ideal preparation for what lay ahead. It allowed him to acquire an inventory of technical jargon and a salesman’s confident delivery. It also provided him access to a sizable network of international contacts. So in 2000, when he met a small-time businessman named Gary Bolton, who was selling a handheld detection device, McCormick had just the right tools to take the enterprise a notch higher.
Bolton came into the story after a circuitous prequel that had begun in the American South. In the 1990s, a man named Malcolm Stig Roe and his partner had been selling the Gopher golf-ball finder in several southern states and came up with a new idea: if they could adapt the Gopher for more serious applications, such as finding narcotics, they’d have a whole new class of consumer. The time was right—War on Drugs hysteria had risen throughout the 1980s, and the promise of a cheap way to find hidden drugs was appealing. They changed the name from “Gopher” to the more sober “Quadro Tracker” and actually succeeded in selling the device to schools in Texas, Kansas, and Florida. A few local law-enforcement agencies in Illinois and Georgia bought the Quadro Tracker as well, and a new class of potential clients opened up.
Taken in 2010 at a checkpoint in Baghdad, an Iraqi police officer employs the device.
By Karim Kadim/AP Photo.
As Quadro Corp. grew, Roe attended security conferences. At one of them he met Sam and Joan Tree, a British couple with a modest (and legitimate) business selling evidence bags, fingerprint powder, and other supplies to police departments in England. Meanwhile, Roe’s device had attracted the attention of the F.B.I., which tested one, determined it was worthless, and sent out a Teletype warning to law-enforcement agencies. Roe decamped to England and moved in with the Trees. It didn’t take long before a new version of Roe’s device, with a new name, was being pitched to law-enforcement agencies in England.
As the F.B.I. had done in the U.S., the Home Office in Britain tested the device and declared it a fraud. But there was a whole world of potential clients abroad—if only there was a way to reach them. That’s where Gary Bolton came in: a veteran salesman and friend of the Trees’, he had experience marketing products abroad and at that very moment happened to be looking for work. Bolton, Roe, and the Trees began working under a new company called Global Technical, Ltd. Soon afterward, Bolton held a demonstration at his home, which impressed an unassuming businessman, Jim McCormick, who offered to leverage his contacts in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
The group would soon fall out amid rancorous charges and countercharges. All of them went on to sell versions of the Tracker. But it was McCormick who had the greatest ambition. By 2004 he was going around England with a “functioning prototype,” trying to find a company to manufacture a heavier model with a more premium feel. A series of awkward encounters ensued, in which he tried to persuade factories to build something they knew wasn’t going to work, but by 2006 he had found a manufacturer willing to sign on. McCormick was no longer just a distributor. Now he was a producer too. And his company, A.T.S.C., was quickly gaining momentum: that year he sold five units of what he was calling the A.D.E. 650to the Lebanese army for $14,000 a piece. The Lebanese army, far from expressing discontent with the useless device, placed a second order, for 80 more units. McCormick sold the A.D.E. to Mövenpick, the Swiss luxury-hotel chain, whose property in Bahrain began using it in 2007. He sold 10 units to the government of Niger, at $25,000 each. He had his own agent in Hong Kong, who took devices to Uzbekistan and Georgia. McCormick even demonstrated the device to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. (When he couldn’t explain to their satisfaction how it worked, the Mounties passed.)
McCormick was willing to pitch anyone, but Iraq was the gold mine, and he was getting rich. He sold at least 5,000 devices to Iraq at a list price of as much as $40,000 apiece, which would come to about $200 million. That figure is likely high: a composite invoice later seized from McCormick’s office places his earnings from Iraq at $38 million. McCormick was giving volume discounts and paying kickbacks, according to investigators, who have also suggested that he was diverting money into offshore accounts. But whatever the precise number, McCormick was flying high even by the lofty standards of defense contracting. That $38 million was just one portion of his earnings from a single country; when combined with sales in a dozen others, McCormick’s income over five years approached $80 million.
McCormick on his Sunseeker yacht, Torquay Marina, 2011.
From Caters News Agency Ltd.
A British prosecutor would later say that McCormick seemed to be neither a sociopath nor evil-minded, but was just exceptionally greedy. But he never appeared all that comfortable as a man of wealth. He barely used the $5 million house in Bath that he had bought from Nicolas Cage, despite its large indoor pool and its Bang & Olufsen entertainment system. There’s little record of him spending time at the vacation house he bought on Cyprus. He looks out of place in a photograph taken aboard his Sunseeker Portofino yacht (to which the often rumpled-looking McCormick gave the unlikely name Aesthete). He could be generous, though. He bought three dressage horses, at around $100,000 each, for his daughter and a house in Florida for his father.
His spending spree coincided with Iraq’s bloody post-surge unraveling. McCormick knew that Iraqi security forces were using his A.D.E. 651, that suicide bombers were beginning to strike with regularity, and that unwitting soldiers and policemen, believing themselves protected, were dying as a result. He even flew to Baghdad in the midst of the wave of bombings to hold a bizarre press conference, standing with the head of Iraq’s bomb squad and talking up the merits of the device. There is no indication that his conscience was troubled.
You don’t really “catch” someone who has never tried to hide what he has done. In 2009, U.S. and British military personnel in Iraq began to agitate about the obviously bogus device showing up at checkpoints everywhere.
Reporters in Iraq took notice. BBC’s Newsnight devoted a Friday evening broadcast to it, and England’s Serious Organized Crime Agency, or SOCA, began feeding intelligence on the A.D.E. to the body with jurisdiction—which was the constabulary where the company in question was based. The Avon and Somerset Constabulary was not the most likely base of operations for an international contracting investigation. The department headquarters are located on a remote and scenic hill; it even has its own nature walk. Detective Niki White, who had spent her career investigating fraud, was among the earliest and most enthusiastic detectives to join the task force, and what followed for White and her colleagues was an investigation unlike any they’d ever experienced. Before it was over, the constabulary would send personnel to Bahrain, Georgia, Lebanon, France, and Belgium, and would receive a visit from an Iraqi inspector general (who came to give evidence) and his entourage.
The first step was collecting evidence: White and her colleagues secured a warrant, raided McCormick’s primary residence and office, and filled a van with confiscated invoices, components, and computers.
In London, meanwhile, Detective Constable Joanne Law was preparing to leave the world of economic crimes for a position as a source handler, running informants. She was three weeks from transferring when her inspector asked her to do a little background research to help him prepare for a meeting with one of the western constabularies. Law began looking into Jim McCormick and his company, A.T.S.C., and found that he had connections to several other companies. She pulled up those companies and looked at their directors, and what came into view was a web of companies selling similar devices going back more than 20 years. She began diagramming the network on a whiteboard, drawing links between people, companies, and countries. Eventually she had what amounted to a family tree, with Malcolm Stig Roe at the top, and the millionaire Jim McCormick at the bottom.
It didn’t take her long to know she wanted in on this case, so after briefing her inspector she made two calls. The first was to cancel her long-awaited transfer. The second was to put out an export warning on several companies that produced the devices. It was a shot in the dark—there was no way of knowing how often any of them shipped their products, or whether any had orders going out at that moment. But the very next day Law got word that a shipment was being held for her at an airport in East Midlands. She set out immediately on the three-and-a-half-hour drive.
Her first priority was stopping the export of the devices. But there was a problem: though England had an export-control law that applied to military hardware and electronic security equipment, McCormick’s devices didn’t actually have functioning electronics. Because they didn’t work, there was no legal basis to ban their export. In the end, the export office found a partial work-around. By adding “electrostatically powered bomb detectors” to the list of controlled exports, they were able to exert some control over shipments—but only shipments to Afghanistan and Iraq. The new legal authority applied only if the exported item posed a risk to British and other “friendly” forces. It did nothing to limit exports to other countries. And it did nothing to remove the thousands of devices that had already been sold.
As Law was uncovering the web of companies and trying to stop the devices from being shipped, in Somerset, Niki White and the local police had gathered enough evidence to arrest McCormick on suspicion of several crimes, including corruption and corporate manslaughter. When the police came, McCormick was perfectly cordial. He didn’t refuse to comment. He didn’t request a lawyer. Instead, he sat in the interview room and for six hours calmly tried to explain to the detectives how his device worked.
The Crown Prosecution Service referred the case to a highly regarded barrister, a charming, fast-talking Queen’s Counsel named Richard Whittam, who, it would seem, had everything he needed. Niki White, in Somerset, had a mountain of evidence documenting McCormick’s activities. Joanne Law, in London, had damning evidence on nearly everyone else who had been involved in selling fake detectors. There could plausibly be five defendants in the dock at once, maybe more. But Whittam had seen cases collapse under the weight of their own size and complexity, and decided that the best chance for conviction was to focus on the charge with the most evidence and prosecute in the simplest way. Go after the defendants one at a time and charge them not with the most serious possible crime—manslaughter—but with the least: fraud.
McCormick has always insisted that his device works, and during the trial, he tried to prove it. The prosecution, therefore, had to prove that it didn’t work, so the trial meandered into a surreal debate on the science of the fraudulent bomb detector. And although science was on the prosecution’s side, the actual scientists presented a problem: all it would take for acquittal was any sliver of doubt in the jury’s mind that the device was utterly useless. Whittam had often found it hard to get scientists to maintain that anyphenomenon is 100 percent impossible, even theoretically, and especially under cross-examination.
For his part, McCormick called to his defense an eccentric Romanian scientist who had written journal articles on theories he claimed were relevant, and whose credibility Whittam had to tactfully dismantle in front of the court. But even when McCormick himself struggled to articulate the theory by which the A.D.E. 651 worked, he never wavered in his stated belief that it did.
Left: Detective Constable Joanne Law, of the City of London Police, who investigated the network of fake bomb detector companies. Right: Queen’s Counsel Richard Whittam, who convicted McCormick and two other members of the group.
Photographs by James Mollison.
In the end, Whittam boiled his case down to the most reductive argument possible, and then kept returning to it: McCormick must have known the devices didn’t work, because McCormick manufactured them. Even if he truly believed in nuclear quadrupole resonance as a theory, and even if he truly believed it could be used to detect explosives, his device in fact had no components that could conceivably facilitate that phenomenon. It was an inert piece of metal and plastic.
McCormick was convicted, and received the maximum sentence in fraud cases: 10 years. He now has to go through a confiscation hearing, in which the Crown will try to claw back McCormick’s assets and offer some sort of restitution to victims in Iraq and elsewhere. Following McCormick’s trial, Whittam convicted two other members of the bomb-detector group, and another Queen’s Counsel secured two more convictions. Only one defendant was acquitted, because he hadn’t played any role in manufacturing the device. With just about everyone involved in the scam now behind bars, the story of the fake detection devices would seem to be over.
But it’s not. The devices were sold by the thousands, all over the world, and getting them out of circulation has proved extraordinarily difficult. For one thing, McCormick arranged to have the mold for the A.D.E. 651 shipped from England, to Bucharest, where a patent application—signed by the same scientist who had testified at the trial—was submitted to the Romanian Patent Office. It was granted.
Joanne Law has traveled to conferences to give warnings about the fake detectors, but there’s no international mechanism for recalling a dangerous device en masse. In some cases, the device has been phased out by local militaries and police forces, but that hasn’t happened everywhere. A year after McCormick’s conviction, the Egyptian military began testing an apparent adaptation of McCormick’s device called the C-Fast, claiming it can detect both AIDS and hepatitis. Last June, 38 people were killed at Jinnah International Airport, in Karachi, when attackers with suicide bombs and rocket launchers got past the airport security force, which has admitted to relying on the A.D.E. 651. Another version of the device was reportedly being used in Thailand. Mexican police looking for drugs have incorporated the device into their stop-and-search procedures; if they ever acknowledge that the device is a fraud, the convictions resulting from those searches would be vulnerable to litigation. In some countries, sheer corruption keeps the device in the hands of soldiers and policemen.
Despite the multiple convictions in Britain—and despite the conviction in Iraq of the country’s bomb-squad commander for taking bribes—officials in Baghdad continue to defend the A.D.E. 651. The exact number of people killed and injured because security forces relied on the device is impossible to know, but it is surely well into the hundreds. And the number will rise. As of this writing, Iraq continues to protect itself from terror attacks with a modified golf-ball detector.

Freitag, 3. Oktober 2014

What Is The Latest From The UK On Fake Bomb Detectors?

The story of the fake bomb detectors

A member of the Iraqi security forces monitor a checkpoint using a fake explosive detecting device in the al-Jadriyah district of Baghdad on May 3, 2013.The fake devices were used on checkpoints in Iraq at a time when bombs were killing or injuring thousands

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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.
An example of the fake bomb detectors displayed by policeDespite the sophisticated, expensive-looking packaging and glossy publicity, the devices were useless
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.
Joan and Sam Tree made the Alpha 6 device in their garden shed in Dunstable in Bedfordshire.
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."
Gopher gold ball finderThe Gopher "amazing golf ball finder" sold for around $20 (£12)
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
part of the GT200 fake bomb detector
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.
Gary BoltonGary Bolton was jailed last August
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.
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."
Joan and Samuel TreePolice said Joan and Samuel Tree hired Bolton after meeting him at an arms conference
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.
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Fake bomb detector graphic
How McCormick's ADE-651 device was meant to work:
  • 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
line break
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.
James McCormick"It does exactly what it's designed to - it makes money," McCormick is said to have responded to concerns about his useless ADE-651.
"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."

More on This Story

Samstag, 2. August 2014

What Is The Tally In The UK Round Up Of Scammers?

Daily Mail: Couple sold worthless homemade bomb detectors for £1,170 while claiming they could be used to hunt for Madeleine McCann

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 Tree convinced a host of clients that a 'bomb detector' made in his garden shed for just £5 was able to also track drugs
Judge Richard Marks QC warned Mrs Tree that herself and her husband face a custodial sentence when they return to the Old Bailey for sentence
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
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.
    A jury at the Old Bailey found Mr Tree guilty of making an article for fraud by an 11-1 majorty
    Mrs Tree was found guilty of making an article for use in fraud by a majority of 10-2
    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 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.
     It is inconceivable that a device hasn't gone through one of those checkpoints and exploded
    Det Supt Nigel Rock 
    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.
    James McCormick was earlier convicted of selling the bogus devices to the UN and the Iraqi army
    Anthony WIlliamson, pictured, avoided jail for his part in the scam as the court heard he had not profited greatly from the enterprise
    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.
    'The device was useless, the profits outrageous and your culpability as a fraudster has to be placed in the highest category 
    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.

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