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
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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."

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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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    Freitag, 1. August 2014

    Who Was Convicted For Selling The Alpha 6 Detectors?

    BBC: Dunstable couple guilty of bomb detector fraud


    "They were actually just made from black plastic boxes, with bits of glue, bits of paper and an antenna stuck on top", reports Lisa Hampele
    A couple in their sixties who made fake bomb detectors and sold them around the world have been convicted of fraud.
    Sam Tree and his wife, Joan, made the bogus devices in their garden shed at Dunstable in Bedfordshire.
    The couple had denied fraud at the Old Bailey trial, claiming their device, sold as Alpha 6, did work.
    Each device cost just a few pounds to make using a plastic box and antenna, but they were sold for as much as £1,171 ($2,000).
    Madeleine McCann
    It consisted of an aerial on a handle into which a card was slotted. The card was supposedly programmed to detect different substances.
    The couple, of Houghton Road, also claimed the device could help police find missing child Madeleine McCann.
    The detectors were marketed by the couple's company Keygrove and some were found to have bits of torn-up paper inside, including a photo of missing Madeleine.
    Prosecutor Sarah Whitehouse QC said: "The impression given is one of sophistication and effectiveness based upon scientific principles.
    "Despite the fact that these plastic boxes plainly could not work, people did, astonishingly, buy them."
    The City of London Police's Overseas Anti-Corruption Unit, which led the investigation, said Alpha 6 was sold to police and security services around the world.
    Det Con Joanne Law 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 were absolutely useless and put both the users and the people they were bought to help and protect in grave danger."
    The couple are due to be sentenced next month and Judge Richard Marks QC said: "The strong likelihood given the offence of which you have been found guilty is a custodial sentence."

    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.