British conman jailed over fake bomb detectors

Thursday 02 May 2013 14.00
James McCormick sold the devices to Iraq, Belgium and the UN
James McCormick sold the devices to Iraq, Belgium and the UN

British conman James McCormick, who is estimated to have made £50m (€59m) from selling fake bomb detectors, has been jailed for ten years.

McCormick, 57, was found guilty at the Old Bailey in London last week of three counts of fraud after jurors heard the devices did not work.

The businessman from Somerset sold his three models to Iraq, Belgium and even the United Nations for use in Lebanon.

But the Advanced Selection Equipment devices had no scientific basis.

They were based on a cheap US novelty golf ball finder, the court heard.

At the Old Bailey Judge Richard Hone told him: "I am wholly satisfied that your fraudulent conduct in selling so many useless devices for simply enormous profit promoted a false sense of security and in all probability materially contributed to causing death and injury to innocent individuals."

Some of the detectors were sold for £27,000 (€32,000) each and McCormick is thought to have made about £37m (€44m) from sales to Iraq alone.

The detectors were marketed to the military, police forces and governments around the world using glossy brochures and the internet.

Men dressed in military-type fatigues were shown using the detectors to find explosives, drugs, fluids, ivory and people.

Richard Whittam QC, prosecuting, said "fantastic" claims were made that the detectors could find substances from planes, under water, underground and through walls.

They claimed to be able to bypass "all known forms of concealment" and be able to detect at distances.

Items could be detected up to 1km underground, up to 5km from the air and 31m underwater, it was said.

The devices were sold by McCormick and his companies along with training and "sensor cards".