back to article Police arrest MD of dowsing-rod 'bomb detector' firm

A British businessman who has made millions selling dowsing-rod "explosives detectors" to the Iraqi security forces has been arrested on suspicion of fraud. The Times reports that Jim McCormick, 53, a former Merseyside police officer who is nowadays managing director of detector-maker ATSC (UK) Ltd, was arrested and questioned …

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OMG. UK company fleeces Iraq's

Let's hope the Iraqs take steps to recover a bit more of *their* money.

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A good start

Great stuff. Let's see this followed up with arresting all mediums, witch-doctors, crystal sellers, chakra botherers and all other purveyors of superstitious mumbo-jumbo (yes like priests, vicars and whatnot).

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Anonymous Coward

Witch Hunt?

I'm sorry, what century do you think this is?

Anonamous cause I'm Jedi!

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Happy

@"who has made millions selling dowsing-rod "explosives detectors""

Sounds like these utter morons, who have lost so much money, are also trying for a place in the Darwin Awards!

It seems in life, that every time you think you've heard of the most stupid humans ever, another candidate tries to out do them! :)

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Stop

@Darwin Award?

You don't imagine these morons will actually be using the sticks themselves?

They'll almost certainly give them to some poor sod and order them to use them.

I don't believe there's a 'Darwin Award by Proxy' yet.

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Happy

@"They'll almost certainly give them to some poor sod"

Yes that occured to me as well. But then if my boss told me to use it I would tell the moron where to go. (Plus I don't care if I was in the military, I would still tell the moron where to go). From that point on, anyone who did use it would be a Darwin Award winner in their own right (as well as prooving they were spinless for going along with the whole thing).

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Anonymous Coward

Maybe a sister company?

Thais have been blowing themselves up with the British-made GT-200 bomb (non)-detector.

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO0911/S00058.htm

Meanwhile, in Iraq:

http://sniffexquestions.blogspot.com/2009/11/when-will-iraq-listen-to-james-randi-us.html

Criminal.

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FAIL

hahahahahahahahahahah

So a plastic cup & a bit of cardboard can detect explosives!!! hahahaha

Brilliant! The people who actually bought these products should be arrested too for fraud!! They can't be real human beings ......

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Grenade

I dont know whether....

.../..to damn his infernal eyes as a charlatan or slap him on the back and declare 'Good work sir!'

A stick with a bit of cardboard on the end to detect bombs.... and truffles...brilliant!

Grenade...well it takes a specially trained opertive to find a grenade in plain sight in an office with a magic stick!

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Fraud?

Arrested for fraud? Hmmm. Will those shops that sell healing crystals be targeted next? Or my local chemist with their homoeopathy section (Apparently their water-pills contain the memory of the medicine that used to be in there, but strangely the water doesn't have the memory of all the urine and fish that it has been through).

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FAIL

@Stef4

tisk tisk Stef - you mistunderstand homoeopathy - unless the urine/fish water was bashed on a piece of wood. you fool.

cough.

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required

Do get it right. It's leather covered wood, otherwise the magic water forgets.

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Boffin

I saw those

in action in Iraq, and I kept thinking how does this stuff detect explosives? The police usually get your car to stop after a check point, and some clown walks alongside about 2-3 meters away from the car, and sees if the rod turns towards it. I innocently thought it must have been an _electronic_ detector, because it is supposedly triggered by laptops as well. Turns out it runs on pixie dust!

There are vapour-based detectors, you usually see them at airports. There is the canine sort, and the electronic sort that they stick in your bag.

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SW
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Me tooo

Yep, a certain hotel that I used to frequent in Kuwait was using these when we lived out there, I was always dubious as to their efficacy.

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Pint

Bahahahaha!

Good for him, seriously.

A sham swimming in a sea of shams.

I hope he doesn't get treated too harshly. After all, the original scam was "official", don't forget.

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FAIL

hahahahhahahahahahaha!

Hahahahhahahahah! *stops to breathe*

"We are working on a new model that has flashing lights...."

HAHHAHAHAHAH! *wipes eyes*

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Happy

flashing light

brilliant!

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Grenade

Brilliant

looks a good bit of kit...

http://atscllc.en.ecplaza.net/2.asp

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Unhappy

You may laugh...

...at how backwards this seems, but when you consider that UK police forces hire psychics to assist with murder cases it just leaves you with vague feeling of depression at the state of the world.

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Psychics?

>>"when you consider that UK police forces hire psychics to assist with murder cases."

If they do, it's not at all common, and 'psychic' assistance in detection is nothing like as common or helpful as 'psychics' claim.

Most 'I helped the police ' claims are either self-delusion from the people who think they really are psychic, or simple lies from the ones who know that they aren't.

Even in the odd occasion where someone did get involved due to a gullible copper, one psychic making a few guesses isn't generally going to do more than waste a bit of police time.

Fake explosive detectors can very easily end up with many people dying.

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OMG!!1Eleventy!

Wow if your gonna buy this "tech" then I have a clear tap water like substance branded "Snayke Oy-l" that cures everything from teh bad Aids to dandruft for a bargain price of £100k a gallon*

Where would you like me to send the invoice ?

* Minimum order £10 Million

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Coat

Gullible idiots

Surely the officials who bought the "detectors" should also be arrested.

Mine's the one with a bit of cardboard in the pocket.

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Happy

Kudos to that man!

Eighty five million for selling a load of old sticks to government dipshits? Bloody brilliant! That man should be selling IT schemes to HMG, he could make even more. Total respect!

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Unhappy

Re: Kudos...

Read the article more carefully. This chap only made 12 million selling certain death to a bunch of fools. Other people out there made SIX times as much by facilitating the transaction. At parties, they probably describe themselves as "businessmen".

Truly the human race knows no lower limit.

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Pint

Kudos undimmed (mostly)

It was still an 85 megabuck scam, as no doubt the Court will be reminded. It would have been a bit much to ask that he trousered the entire 85 as well. ("only" 12 million, btw? errr, *one* would do me very nicely ... ) The guy still has all the brass neck of a banker - well, almost all, as he did actually deliver some (sort of) hardware.

Quite agree with your other comments, though, especially the last. Hence the drink. Whom the Gods would destroy make very depressing entertainment for the sober.

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Badgers

Godalmighty! (Buries head in hands, weeps)

What the hell were the Iraqi government thinking?? When I worked for various companies, you had to PROVE the product, whatever, worked. For example, when building/designing Nokia Basestations, we had to leap through hoops of fire to get the product approved by the FCC, etc. Not just proof that it worked, but actually met international standards. Then, show all our documentation (independently certified) to the customer before they'd take it on over our competitors' products. Then, FFS, let them try a few for a few months.

I tried to discover if this company had ISO9001 approval, but going to http://www.atscltd.com/ I got "Website under repair" message. Wayback Machine? No pages listed. Bells should've been ringing years ago.

At least it wasn't made from badgers paws.

This man seems nothing more than at least a conman, at worst a terrorist, and I hope he's tried under the terrorist laws. FFS, a basestation isn't protecting people's lives. This $8,000 'twig' was purported to. How many have died relying on this snake-oil? If it's proved to be a smoke-and-mirrors device, I hope at least manslaughter charges can be added.

"A new model that has flashing lights" must be the best quote to hit El Reg this year. It's only January, for fuc*k's sake!

Oh, and McCormick is released on bail, and the numpty plods didn't confiscate his passport??? Surprise, surprise when a worker says he's "Out of the country".

At least it wasn't made from badgers' paws.

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Stop

Think before you comment

"At least it wasn't made from badgers' paws."

Badger's paws do work for that actually. I was assured of this by an old farmer who hangs around at my local pub, he does know a thing or two about badgers.

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ISO9001?

All that would tell you is that there is an auditable trail and documentation for their design process and manufacturing systems along with training and support (which they clearly have). it wont prove whether the thing works or not. It is probably made well enough as humans have been making sticks and cardboard for centuries!

Infact I would think it likely that they would pass ISO9001 accreditation easily as there is clearly a product development cycle as well, what with their intention to add "flashing lights".

I wouldnt be surprised if it had some kind of design award either!

Besides, i have never seen one not work (assuming that any poor sod blown up was not following their training properly) ;)

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@Andus

>>"What the hell were the Iraqi government thinking??"

Presumably they were thinking "Which Swiss bank account should I have my commission put into?"

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Alien

One down . . .

Shame that the Xenu shaggers don't seem to be able to be held to account for thier two bits of bog-roll and box that goes 'ping'

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FAIL

Batteries not included

"One of the problems we have is that the machine does look a little primitive. We are working on a new model that has flashing lights"

I have a suitcase full of 'holes' to throw all those bombs into if they're interested.

Say $10k each?

I also have some 2nd hand Skyhooks for sale....

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Skyhooks?

When, years ago I was in BT, working at a HF radio station (Bearley, near Stratford-on-Avon) we used to send apprentices to the store for a new 'skyhook' because, being 'educated' they got too smart to get me a "new bubble for my spirit level..."

Don, the old storeman was always in on it, and gave them a butchers hook we used for the purpose. Or, a kid's balloon, if he had one handy. With the plethora of masts at Bearley, it was a moderately convincing question.

Alternatively, at lunchtime, we'd send said PFY to Don for a 'long weight'. "Sit for a few moments, I'll get you one". Then Don would re-emerge an hour later (after he'd had his lunch), and tell him he'd just had his 'long wait', now go back to the lab. Don never used to tire of it.

Hope this charlatan gets a very long wait.

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@Andus

""new bubble for my spirit level...""

You can get these ... Professional grade spirit levels are too expensive to throw away just because a bubble vial is broken. To say nothing of the fact that many carpenters/woodworkers make their own set of levels (and tool boxes, and box plains, etc.); it's kind of a right of passage. I am fortunate enough to have my great-grandfather's tools ...

That said, we used "left handed screwdriver" and/or "metric die grinder". Or we'd have 'em take the company car out to get the air in the tires changed and the radiator springs checked. Or to have a new set of chrome reverse muffler bearings installed. Long wait was used occasionally when we didn't have the patience to walk a rookie thru long, involved procedures and knew we could get thew job done faster without him/her hovering around ... the secretary was in on the joke.

I hope for a long wait for this bozo, too. I'm not holding my breath, though.

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Good news

This is very good news. It's terrible that someone can make so much money at the very obvious expense of other peoples' lives.

They should put this man in a minefield, equipped with one of his magic sticks and if he's lucky enough to get out unharmed then lock him up anyway.

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and that's why we're so crap at exporting stuff

.. we beat up our own companies. Even when they're selling stuff abroad.

Surely it's not our place to tell the Iraqis that what they've bought is rubbish - they are quite capable fo finding that our for themselves - and complaining if necessary. It's not our police's job to spend OUR TAX MONEY protecting them from someone they haven't even decided they have a problem with.

The irony is that without "our side" dropping bombs on them in the first place, they probably wouldn't need to buy bomb detectors anyway.

Anyone got a pair of size 9 hob-nailed landmine detectors?

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Anonymous Coward

Caveat emptor

Maybe this case is a little more difficult because the customer/victim is the government of a country under military occupation by the UK.

Or maybe he just forgot to hire a lawyer who would have told him to put some magic words to the effect of "product does not actually work" in the small print.

It's true that a lot of the stuff sold in Boots doesn't work but the descriptions on cosmetics packaging are very carefully worded to mislead the customer while avoiding trouble from Trading Standards.

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah,

because Iraqis aren't human beings who deserve not to be blown up because some fuckwit wants to make some dough.

Dick.

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I'm sure Haliburton don't have this much trouble

Dick,

I doubt the Iraqis are any worse off with these dowsing rods than they were before, without them. You never know, they might even work! Iraq is a "grown up" state - hell, we trained their police. Therefore I'm sure they would have no trouble complaining to our govt. if they had a mind to.

Further, if they don't like it so much I wonder whether the British government will pay back the tax they took from this guy's profits?

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Alert

and....

...who is paying for security in Iraq at the moment?

Just asking!

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good grief, indeed!

palm => face

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Grenade

Occupation?

I think you're behind the times, Coward. That operation is over, and Iraq has an elected government of its own.

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Boots next?

Great news. Next the police should arrest and charge the board of directors of Boots (and other chemists) for fraudulently selling homeopathic products falsely described as "remedies" and "complementary medicine", when they're neither, to vulnerable people.

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FAIL

Their website

http://www.atscltd.com/

is under repair..

Oh really?

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Coat

LOL

"McCormick hit back, however, telling the paper that “we have been dealing with doubters for ten years. One of the problems we have is that the machine does look a little primitive. We are working on a new model that has flashing lights.”"

well im sold. flashing lights = technology!

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Badgers

Who....

He's well used to dealing with HMG then.

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Hmmm.

It looks from the Times articles that a great deal of money was spent on training and 'middlemen'.

I wonder how many of the middlemen ever believed or cared whether the devices worked, and how many were just looking to take their cut?

When you have a senior Iraqi official insisting the devices are great even when they know the US/UK forces think they're entirely worthless, i think you can guess who some of the middlemen probably are.

Apparently, there's a suggestion that Newsnight tonight might have some coverage on the issue.

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Coffee/keyboard

ROFLMAO - a fool and his money ($85m of it)

This is just all kinds of awesome...

I can't read that all again for fear of laugher induced heart attack.

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Anonymous Coward

thing is

Is it illegal to sell packets of dehydrated water to idiots?

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I think it's definately a case of "Well done sir!"

Correct me if I'm wrong, but back when he was selling these to Saddam it was in our interest for them NOT to be able to detect explosive ordenance...

Also, am I the only one that thinks not even the creator takes them seriously?

"We are working on a new model that has flashing lights"

Priceless!

If this new model detects something and has to go from red alert to blue alert, does this mean changing the bulb?

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FAIL

Caveat Emptor

Says I. If you're dumb enough to buy this stuff, I say you deserve everything you get.

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