Fake bomb detector seller James McCormick jailed

'Dowsing for bombs' fraudster jailed.

by John Jackson on May 2, 2013, 11:11

James McCormick photoFraudster James McCormick, 57, of Langport, Somerset has been jailed for 10 years for selling fake bomb detectors.

See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22380368

The bomb detectors were basically dowsing devices. They consisted of a handle with a freely swinging antenna that would allegedly point to its target when it was present. The actual action of the device, which had no power source or working electronics, was caused by ideomotor action.

The ideomotor effect is very deceptive and could easily fool someone who's not familiar with it that the device actually worked. However, it is clear that McCormick, and undoubtedly others involved in the fraud, knew full well that the device did not work.

That may be of little consequence for a novelty golf ball finder (keep looking and you will find the ball eventually), on which McCormick's fake bomb detector was based, but when your device is used by security services to save people's lives then the deception is unforgivable.

Inherent danger

One danger in these devices is that they can instil a false sense of security in those using them who believe they work, but the real danger arises when terrorist groups see them being used and they know that they don't work. Not only would these useless devices fail to detect any bombs normally, but their very usage could ensure that checkpoints were specifically targeted because terrorists knew they could get through undetected.

From the BBC article:

Prosecuting QC Richard Whittam said the justice and foreign affairs ministries in Baghdad were hit by truck bombs - which drove through the checkpoints where the useless devices were operated.

The prosecution said the "inescapable conclusion" was that Iraqis died because of their use.

Continued usage

It may seem inconceivable that after this fraud has been highlighted and that the devices have been exposed as being both useless and dangerous that any security force would continue to use them. Sadly this is not the case. The bogus ADE651 'bomb detector' is still being used in many countries - including Iraq.

The potential consequences should be obvious - especially after the publicity that this fraud case has caused which has highlighted the fact that the bomb detectors don't work.

Further reading