McCormick found guilty of fraud for selling fake bomb detectors

Excellent outcome in this trial.

UK businessman found guilty of selling fake bomb detectors to Iraq | UK news |

A Somerset businessman has been found guilty of a multimillion-pound fraud involving the sale of fake bomb detectors to Iraq and around the world.

A jury at the Old Bailey found Jim McCormick, 57, from near Taunton, guilty on three counts of fraud over a scam that included the sale of £55m of devices based on a novelty golfball finder to Iraq. They were installed at checkpoints in Baghdad through which car bombs and suicide bombers passed, killing hundreds of civilians.

We have been following this story for years now since many in the skeptical community, such as Bruce Hood and James Randi, have spoken up about these dowsing devices being used to detect explosives. McCormick’s house was raided back in December of 2009. Ben Goldacre reported in November of 2009: ADE651: wtf? – Bad Science.

The ADE651 devices have no power source, no mechanisms in which to work, but they were marketed to military clients around the world.
ADE 651 iraq

The details that have come out of this article are rather astounding. An Iraqi whistleblower now alleges that McCormick bribed Iraqis officials. A former colleague told the BBC he observed McCormick creating accounts with false names saying that these officials “don’t care if people live or die”.

Sentencing will be May 2, and it is anticipated McCormick will appeal. But with the evidence presented, the case seems sound. And horrible.

McCormick was charged last July.
Fake ‘Bomb detector’ maker Jim McCormick and others charged with fraud | Doubtful News.

Pleaded not guilty.
McCormick pleads not guilty to fraud charges over dowser-like bomb detectors | Doubtful News.

It was revealed that the devices originated as golf ball detectors.
McCormick fraud trial begins. Source of devices revealed – golf ball detectors | Doubtful News.

Yet he alleged he believed they really worked.
McCormick trial: He believed detecting devices really worked | Doubtful News.


McCormick, of Langport, Somerset, made an estimated £50 million from sales of his three models to Iraq, Belgium and even the United Nations for use in Lebanon.

via Millionaire businessman James McCormick guilty of selling fake bomb detectors – Crime – UK – The Independent.

[…] his main market was Iraq, where lives depended on bomb detection and where the bogus devices were, and still are, used at virtually every checkpoint in the capital.Between 2008 and 2009 alone, more than 1,000 Iraqis were killed in explosions in Baghdad. Thousands more were injured, including 21-year-old Haneen Alwan, who was two months pregnant and had gone out to buy ice cream when she was caught in a bomb in January 2009.

via BBC News – Fake bomb detectors ‘destroyed lives’.

Expert evidence presented during the trial concluded that the ADE detecting device had no working components in them that could enable them to be useful in the detection of any explosives or drugs.

via Avon and Somerset Constabulary – Somerset explosives detector man found guilty after three year police investigation (Old Bailey).

Det Insp Ed Heath of the Avon and Somerset Constabulary, the deputy senior investigating officer said:

“McCormick showed a complete disregard for the safety of those that used and relied upon the device for their own security and protection. He amassed many millions of pounds through his greed and criminal enterprise.”

via BBC News – James McCormick guilty of selling fake bomb detectors.

According to those following the case, additional trials may take place for his other similar devices. They are also known as: Quadro Tracker, Alpha 6, MOLE, ADE651, GT-200, Sniffex, and PSD-22.

James McCormick’s fake bomb detectors and the attack I witnessed in Baghdad – Telegraph Blogs.

  10 comments for “McCormick found guilty of fraud for selling fake bomb detectors

  1. April 23, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    Hal Bidlack must be mentioned here. He’s the one who championed this cause to the military and finally got the ball rolling. Well done Hal!

  2. April 23, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    Also Prof. Bruce Hood deserves some kudos, because he lived near where this man’s company was in England, and despite this being out of his normal bailiwick skeptically, brought it to the attention of the BBC and got them to cover it on Newsnight.

  3. Pete Attkins
    April 23, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    He’s much more guilty than the plethora of SCAM practitioners who prey on the gullible? I think not. He’s equally as guilty as the manufacturers of washing machines, dishwashers and detergents who promote “We should wash at 20 to 30 Celsius in order to save the our planet”: this is dangerous advice because many harmful bacteria, moulds & funguses multiply very quickly at these temperatures in this humid environment. Obviously, these temperatures will breed Salmonella and E. coli rather than eradicate them.

    I deplore what he’s done, but it’s a sobering lesson that exemplifies the consequences of not having critical thinking skills a mandatory element of the national curriculum and university courses.

    In 2013, it still takes an extraordinary amount of personal effort to challenge false advertising. Worse still in the UK, those of us who make the effort to challenge false claims face the strong possibility of financially-crippling libel action against us.

  4. bshistorian
    April 23, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    Er, no Pete. Washing machines actually work, regardless of what misleading promotion their makers might employ. And they don’t directly endanger human lives in the way that this thing does.

  5. Nos482
    April 23, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    “The ADE651 devices have no power source, no mechanisms in which to work”
    Wait what?!
    What kind of knuckleheads are stationed in Iraq, that they didn’t instantly realize they were had?
    I think I have a few landmarks left to sell…

  6. Stamen
    April 23, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    I’m surprised everyone isn’t making the same point as Nos. These devices are expensive, and despite having no power source and a strangely large number of uses, nobody asks for proof they work or evidence of tests. Maybe he bribed Iraqi officials but these things have been sold to a number of military and para military forces. Don’t militaries care what they are buying?

  7. Pete Attkins
    April 25, 2013 at 12:38 PM


    If by “actually work” you mean getting items cosmetically clean then I agree. However, a washing machine used in combination with its other advertised propaganda about detergents should not be regarded as a frivolous vanity product.

    If by “actually work” you mean laundering in such a manner that the items are hygienically cleaned then the combination of the advertised information is a dismal failure that causes morbidity, sometimes mortality, in the elderly and/or chronically ill. I sincerely hope that you never have to go through the agony of failing to get this message across to someone you love.

    McCormick wasn’t trying to fool the poorly-informed general public with his products. The SCAM practitioners and woo-mongers target the general public directly with their snake-oil; their alternative ‘vaccines’ for MMR, their ‘cures’ for cancer and HIV/AIDS. McCormick managed to easily fool the incompetent fools that Nos482 and Stamen have highlighted.

    I do not know the best way of apportioning blame and I do not have an algorithm for serving justice. All I can do is apologise for not making my original comment abundantly clear to you.

  8. G. Tong
    April 26, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    Kenyan police have issued a statement to reassure the Kenyan public that their bomb detecting devices are effective. They are the same dowsing devices. It just makes them look ridiculous.

  9. Peter Robinson
    May 1, 2013 at 5:50 AM

    In order of credit for who did what to bring McCormick down. First of course is Randi, who issued the MDC to the ADE651 in October 2008. I believe he was alerted to the ADE651 by Richard Saunders.

    Not to be forgotten is Lumpy Low who started his Sniffex Questions blog in 2007 and gave thorough coverage of the Sniffex and other variants.

    As for the media, the first major expose was by Rod Norland in the New York Times in November 2009. This was followed by a TV interview of James McCormick by Clinton Rogers of BBC Somerset.

    BBC Newsnight then picked up the story in Jan and Feb 2010 after Caroline Hawley saw these devices in use in Baghdad, and she and Meirion Jones (Producer) put together their excellent reports (further report Jan 2011), in which Bruce Hood played a part.

    However, I must clarify for all concerned that without Techowiz it is unlikely that McCormick would ever have been charged or convicted. I am not at liberty to reveal who Techowiz is. Suffice to say, he is the real hero of this story, and although I know he does not seek any credit, it would be unfair if the skeptical community was under the impression that it was only a few big names in that community who were responsible for this victory.

    There are a number of others who made important contributions as well, and once the trials of the others charged over different variants of these devices are over, I will be publishing a full roll call of all who made useful contributions.

    Cheers, Dubious Dick, a.k.a. Diohuni a.k.a. Peter Robinson

  10. Gaius Cornelius
    May 1, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    The big question for the law and the media is “why did this take so long?” James Randi and other skeptics were on the case for a year or two before BBC’s Newsnight took an interest. If nothing else, the takeaway message for journalists should be that the skeptical world is a great starting point for investigative journalism – they may have the resources to get to the bottom of a story and the clout to bring it to the public. In general we are ill-severed by the media; perhaps we can improve that…

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