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back to article Fraudster gets ten years after selling fake 'ionic charge' bomb detectors

A British businessman who netted an estimated £60m selling cheap US novelty dowsing rods as sophisticated bomb and drug sniffing devices for up to $30,000 apiece has been jailed for 10 years. Crown prosecutors claim James McCormick, 57, used a combination of salesmanship and bribery to sell a range of Advanced Detection …

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Ten years?

hopefully after ten years he'll serve the rest of his sentence in an Iraqi prison where I'm sure he'd receive a warm reception.

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Unhappy

Re: Ten years?

Unfortunately I suspect we couldn't extradite as he's quite likely to die as a consequence (either by death penalty or by mob justice).

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Facepalm

Re: Ten years?

... hmm ... I wonder now if the US government used this devices to determine that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction ...

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Happy

Re: Ten years?

They should make him search for IED's with his so call detector.

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Anonymous Coward

@ I think so I am

I sincerely doubt that there is any thinking going on on your part.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: we couldn't extradite as he's quite likely to die as a consequence

He's an ex-copper going inside ...

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Devil

10 years is not enough!

Maybe the Iraqis could extradite him after (hopefully) a full ten years to prosecute him for some of the useless deaths.

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Re: 10 years is not enough!

Davehhhhh

Beat me to it

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BXL

Re: 10 years is not enough!

and then hopefully Thailand can take a turn, then Kenya, Hong Kong and Egypt..etc.

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Silver badge

Re: 10 years is not enough!

...and made to walk through minefields each day equipped only with his toy explosives detector.

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Anonymous Coward

I don't understand how this qualifies as a crime in the UK. Wasn't the fraud committed abroad?

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It was probably the bribery

In the US (and probably the UK) it is illegal to bribe foreigners to sell to them.

He might also have show the suckers the device"working" in the UK. If he did that then the fraud was committed in UK.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It was probably the bribery

"[in the UK] it is illegal to bribe foreigners to sell to them."

Yeah, but you can get away with it as long as Tony Blair is on your Christmas card list.

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Happy

Re: It was probably the bribery

"Yeah, but you can get away with it as long as Tony Blair is on your Christmas card list."

I shall instantly add him, and David Cameron for double insurance :)

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Black Helicopters

Re: It was probably the bribery

If you own less then 40 million pounds. You do not exist for them. Good luck with that.

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Stop

Brian Butterfield has gone too far this time!

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Pint

Good.

Does this mean we can prosecute homeopaths now?

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Joke

Re: Good.

I went to have my constipation cured by a psychopath and the treatment really worked.

The procedure was quite straightforward - he scared the shit out of me.

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Joke

Re: Good.

If a homeopath drowns, is it merely an overdose?

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Re: Good.

I wish I could upvote this more than once.

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Silver badge

Re: Good.

This. In spades. And not just homoeopaths - all pedallers of quackery and pseudo-science. Unless, of course, they can prove it works under proper (verified, repeatable, fully-blinded) trials. Which they can't.

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Trollface

Re: Good.

There is no need for evidence and tedious work producing it when a mere telephone call from someone close to the Prince of Wales is that is required to get the NHS to support the quackery.

Probably a similar procedure was used to evaluate the golf-ball finders!?

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Thumb Up

Re: Good.

What? *ALL* Quackery that obtains monies from deception?

Ah....organised religion here we come....

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Anonymous Coward

Sentence much too light

FFS. this guy killed ten times more than Shipman just to make a quick buck and he gets a measly 10 years?!

Rulings like this make me sick to the stomach, I'd have given him life without parole + 50 for what he has done.

Make it the extra vicious Federal prisons in the US to boot, not the cushy "free satellite and 3 meals" UK ones.

And take away his ill gotten gains and donate them to Iraq veterans or something.

Shame we don't have the death penalty in the UK any more, I can't think of a more deserving candidate.

AC/DC

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sentence much too light

One of the few people that should actually be in Guantanamo Bay. After all by selling devices like this to the Iraqi government he indirectly aided in terrorist activity

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Silver badge

The 10 year sentence was the maximum term the judge could hand down. I've no doubt that if he could have put the fucker away for life he would have.

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your POV) the law prescribes maximum penalties which judges cannot exceed, however much they'd like to. So 10 years was as much as this guy could be put away for.

I wouldn't be surprised though, to see extradition proceedings initiated by Iraq and other countries once his release date approaches, though. Not to mention he's seriously pissed off some military forces who aren't exactly noted for their forbearance and mercy. I think 10 years of chokey will be the least of his troubles.

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Holmes

I agree maximums are important, but there should be a proviso for cases like this where the judge can refer it to a higher court for a longer time in the slammer. A law can never be written to cover all possible infringements, the judges are allowed some small freedom on interpretation to assist with this but in a case like this there definately should be a process for referal, with safeguards.

A case in point is 'vehicular manslaughter', if the driver is drunk or on their cell phone, that should be murder (a clear decision to perform an innappropriate act), or at least double the tarrif for VM.

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@RP

I know what you mean, but (leaving aside the fact that vehicular manslaughter/homicide doesn't exist in the UK) he was convicted of fraud, becuase that's what the judge here had the ability to do. If you want him to serve time for the *deaths* that he caused, I agree, but that is something that should be dealt with by those countries *where* they occurred and after he is extradited to them to face trial (which I would wholeheartedly support). We can't just make up laws on the fly when we find the existing ones inconvenient; then they wouldn't be laws at all.

Regarding your example, we actually already have specific provision for manslaughter as a consequence of an unlawful act - have a butcher's at http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/h_to_k/homicide_murder_and_manslaughter/ , specifically the section on Unlawful Act Manslaughter.

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Silver badge

Re: Sentence much too light

The risk was there, to be sure, but is there any evidence anyone really died because of this? Conning or bribing the guy in charge of buying tech for a government is one thing, but I suspect in many if not all cases somewhere between that guy and the guy whose life is actually in danger, someone had enough sense to quietly stick it on a shelf.

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Silver badge

Extradition? No, sorry.

"I wouldn't be surprised though, to see extradition proceedings initiated by Iraq and other countries once his release date approaches, though. "

You know that he couldn't be extradited from any member-state of the EU to any country where he would be in jeopardy of receiving the death penalty, right?

In addition to the EU law, most of the member-states of the EU have had their own laws about this too. Because it is just so fucking important to the bourgeois conscience that the lives of murderers and their ilk be protected....

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WTF?

60 MILLION?!!!

There's more than one party guilty here. Did the buyers (gov agencies and supposedly expert organizations) ever, EVER think to test one?

Just one?!

Ever?!

Sounds like the scam was being worked both ways and he pissed somebody off.

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Alert

Re: 60 MILLION?!!!

Of COURSE they were tested - by people in on the scam. If he had sold them totally above board, he probably wouldn't be in nearly as much trouble, or at least the governments would have a lot harder time making a case. But he had to go and bribe officials into accepting the devices, running right in the face of laws like the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (or rather the UK equivalent).

The scam is so transparent and pathetic (the "ionic balance chips" are photographs of what you want to detect, printed on cardboard). When you run the bingo board on Maki Naro's "Quackery Red Flag" comic, and you aren't even medicine, something is very, very wrong.

http://sci-ence.org/red-flags2/

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Ru

Re: 60 MILLION?!!!

It will be interesting to see if the folk who authorised the purchases will be prosecuted too. Clearly they were in on the scam... at the very least, if they can't be prosecuted for their blatant corruption, they're clearly guilty of gross negligence.

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Silver badge

Re: 60 MILLION?!!!

A dowsing rod "works" by amplifying uncontentious movements of the user. So it's possible it did appear to work when tested by an independent party, as long as it wasn't a blind test.

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Mushroom

Not just Jim

What about Global Technical (Kent based company) selling their equally bullshit GT200 (http://www.globaltechnical.co.uk/gt200-remote-substance-detection.html) or the European unival group still selling the SNIFFEXPLUS/HEDD1 (http://www.hedd1.com/)?

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Stop

Re: Not just Jim

There certainly is a lot of similarity with this and those sites.

Amazing technobabble on the GT500 page:

'The system can penetrate walls, metal, and can even transmit from underground, due to high efficiency.'

It's like an audiophile site.

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Facepalm

Please tell me that the fscktards who bought them got 20 years.

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I disagree with most people here.

If the buyers were that stupid then the fault is theirs. This guy deserves pain but not nearly as much as the idiots that bought products that evidently *could* *not* work. Testing would have shown that. Common sense would have shown that.

I'm with ecofeco; the buyers must have benefitted and they should get the bulk of the punishment (yeah, right). Then he trod on some toes and it got political so he got publicly strung up. Some score is being conveniently settled, that's all.

It stinks in all directions.

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Silver badge

Re: I disagree with most people here.

I think both deserve punishment. He put lives at risk and he damaged our reputation as a country which hurts our export business. They buyers most certainly deserve to be dealt with as well, but he also deserves a long time inside.

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Silver badge

Re: I disagree with most people here.

Presumably the people who sold Nimrod and Chinooks to the UK and Exocets to the Argentinians will get a rather longer sentance.

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DJO
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FAIL

Re: I disagree with most people here.

If the buyers were that stupid then the fault is theirs.

So what you are saying is that fraud is OK if the victims are too stupid to know they are being defrauded. Sir, you are a dangerous moron, what next? Perhaps you'd like to see handicapped people sterilised or anybody with an IQ below 90 locked up for their own good?

Everybody regardless of their mental aptitude is entitled to the same protection under the law and if anything it is incumbent on society to protect those least able to protect themselves, not as you seem to think, leave then to fend for themselves against whatever travails the world throws at them.

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Flame

Re: I disagree with most people here.

Fraud *is officially* declared to be OK. The Obama administration has gone to town on legalizing* financial fraud thus making it a viable and scalable business model, Globally.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/gangster-bankers-too-big-to-jail-20130214

People who matter obviously stopped giving a shit several years ago, "society" is following their lead!

*) First by actively ignoring fraud, then by licensing via settlements instead of jail.

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Bronze badge

Re: I disagree with most people here. @DJO

> So what you are saying is that fraud is OK if the victims are too stupid to know they are being defrauded

if the 'victim' is a government or government-linked organisation then it's a bit different from someone's age-befuddled nan. If you can't tell the difference then perhaps I'm not the moron here.

> Perhaps you'd like to see handicapped people sterilised or anybody with an IQ below 90 locked up for their own good?

You forgot to accuse me of homophobia, anti-semetism, animal abuse and supporting genocide. All of which were equally not mentioned in my original post.

> Everybody regardless of their mental aptitude is entitled to the same protection under the law

'Everybody' is not the typical buyer of these pieces of junk. You seem to have totally missed this. Try reading the article.

And as an aside, if you make the world safe for fools then you end up with a world of fools. Not mental debilitation but wilful, avoidable, and deliberate folding-up-the-brain-and-putting-it-away fools.

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Re: I disagree with most people here.

It seems to me that the buyer weren't that stupid (at least to fall for the scam). From the last paragraph it looks like a lot were corrupt sods who were willing to line their own pockets, because they didn't care about the poor sods who were going to be on the front line, and knew it wasn't going to be them working that front line.

Would have been interesting to see which ones had personal bodyguards relying on these, or whether they were using something different.

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FAIL

Re: I disagree with most people here. @DJO

Actually BG, it's _you_ who need to re-read the article since it pretty plainly states that higher ups (i.e. foreign gov't officials) involved in the purchases were bribed and so in on the scam. The people using them were the injured parties, perhaps literally, and so he does indeed deserve much more than the judge was able to give him.

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WTF?

I can't believe...

...that nobody actually tested one !

Whatever else the Romans did for us, they provided this useful advice: Caveat Emptor

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I can't believe...

Of course the purchasers didn't test them. They were no doubt getting a large bung. Then they handed the useless toys to their security people who of course couldn't blow the whistle without getting their heads blown off into the bargain, so they had to go along with the subterfuge. In any case it didn't really matter that the things didn't work as long as they either deterred the bombers or gave the plebs a false sense of security.

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Bronze badge

Re: I can't believe...

I assume they tested the envelope of bank notes they were handed.

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Unhappy

Re: I can't believe...

Sadly, they were tested, in a live theater of war.

The unfortunate operators/civilians who died or were injured were the lab rats.

The operators that survived a blast were probably told that they weren't holding the device right.

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Joke

Re: weren't holding the device right

That gives me an idea for a new iPhone app...

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