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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  1. Davehhhhh

    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.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge
      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).

      1. Erwin Hofmann
        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 ...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

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

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

    2. I think so I am?
      Happy

      Re: Ten years?

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ I think so I am

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

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    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. BXL

      Re: 10 years is not enough!

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

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: 10 years is not enough!

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

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

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

    1. Charles Manning

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. Matthew 25
          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 :)

          1. jonfr
            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.

  4. Matt Bucknall
    Stop

    Brian Butterfield has gone too far this time!

  5. 2FishInATank
    Pint

    Good.

    Does this mean we can prosecute homeopaths now?

    1. despicable me
      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.

    2. Andus McCoatover
      Joke

      Re: Good.

      If a homeopath drowns, is it merely an overdose?

    3. Mako

      Re: Good.

      I wish I could upvote this more than once.

    4. The BigYin

      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.

      1. fajensen Silver badge
        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!?

      2. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Good.

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

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

  6. Anonymous Coward
    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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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

    2. Steven Roper

      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.

      1. Rampant Spaniel
        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.

        1. nichomach

          @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.

      2. Turtle

        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....

    3. Old Handle

      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.

  7. ecofeco Silver badge
    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.

    1. Pet Peeve
      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/

    2. 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.

    3. Old Handle

      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.

  8. Mercifull
    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/)?

    1. tomban
      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.

  9. Big-nosed Pengie
    Facepalm

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

  10. BlueGreen

    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.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      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.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward 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.

    2. DJO Silver badge
      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.

      1. fajensen Silver badge
        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.

      2. BlueGreen

        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.

        1. Grey Bird
          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.

    3. Triggerfish

      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.

  11. Graham Dresch
    WTF?

    I can't believe...

    ...that nobody actually tested one !

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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. Crazy Operations Guy

      Re: I can't believe...

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

    3. Winkypop Silver badge
      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.

      1. tomban
        Joke

        Re: weren't holding the device right

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

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I doubt it

    I doubt that he'll leave prison alive.

    1. HMB

      Re: I doubt it

      You don't think organised crime would want to groom a Fraudster who managed that? Really? I think any gang would want him to be in their debt for their protection services.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    27k Golf ball finder anyone...?

    How? How ever did he pull this off...

    This is straight out of Only-Fools-and-Horses meets Arthur Daly of Minder....

    Can someone send me a link that explains how he got passed demo-ing this glorified Golf Ball finder?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: 27k Golf ball finder anyone...?

      Same way that somebody got a $bn contract for perve scanners at airports

  14. Brian Bles*ed
    Devil

    Actually........

    It's as 5 years incarceration and 5 years out on license. Presumably that's the bit to print the money no one will find.....

  15. John H Woods Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Without minimizing the tragic consequential loss of life ...

    ... I'm just amazed that these were in use without people realizing they were divining rods. Not only in the swinging action of the rod but in the extravagant claims (they could detect *anything*; they worked from the air; they worked on tiny amounts; they worked at enormous range; they worked through shielding and deep underground. Indeed, the only missing claims that a standard dowser would make is that worked even over maps).

    No purchaser can have bought them without knowing either that (a) they knew enough science themselves to see it was bogus or that or (b) they knew so little science they needed to consult with someone who could do (a). Buyers were, at the very best, criminally negligent, and at worst, part of the conspiracy.

    Further (though not that far) down the chain of command it is clear that many people knew these 'detectors' were total bullshit (I believe that was the word used by an Iraqi Lt) and yet more blame must lie with all those who ignored the shouts that the emperor was in fact naked, whether involved in the purchase or not.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't this sound like the ICT industry?

    "and perhaps as importantly a demonstration technique, that unfortunately convinced some people in senior positions that the device worked," he said. "In the culture of some of these countries if a senior operator says this device works then clearly some of the staff believe that because their boss has told them."

    I can't help but imagine the pointy haired boss spending millions in company money to move all the companies documents from their web based networking solution to 'the cloud'

  17. chiller

    The test

    He should be placed in a room with 10 boxes of which 9 are booby trapped to kill instantly on opening. He should then be asked to identify the safe box and open it using his amazing gadget.

    If he can do it 3 times then let him go, seems fair.

    If he refuses he should have a grenade shoved up his arse, minus the pin, and booted down some stairs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The test

      Well not my stairs, thank you, I've just scrubbed them.

  18. umacf24

    Spelling of 'dowsing' in the subhead

    that is all

  19. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Helped move a lot of money out of various hotspots for various people.

    He should be extradited to the various places he sold this BS too but his pals on the inside won't want him anywhere in their country laying out how much he had to bung back to them.

    Unless of course they want to silence him permanently.

    Note the operators were probably not in much danger because AQ and the Taliban probably pretty soon rumbled that it was complete b***ocks and they could drive a truckload of semtex up to a mosque without any worries. So he's probably responsible for several thousand of the Iraqis who've died in such bombs.

    The complete sense of plausibility and lack of guilt suggest he's a psychopath. I wonder if he realizes just how strong the tradition of private vengeance over public justice is in some of those countries?

  20. Crisp Silver badge

    McCormick, who still insists he hasn't had customer complaints about the efficacy of the devices

    Dead men don't make complaints.

    1. Old Handle

      Re: McCormick, who still insists he hasn't had customer complaints about the efficacy of the devices

      And neither do embarrassed government officials.

  21. sillyfudder
    Mushroom

    Dowsing

    For all of those asking how these things passed testing ... They probably did.

    These are "dowsing" devices and unless the test is double blind (ie. with no-one in the room having any idea where the search object is located, including the observers) they do _seem_ to work.

    Dowsing uses the ideometer effect (and a device to amplify these tiny involuntary movements .. an antenna on a hinge in this case) and can easily convince people that they are receiving an external stimulus.

    James Randi says that the dowsers who get tested for his million dollars prize are always the most sincere and completely convinced that their powers are real, and the most surprised and difficult to convince that they aren't (even after failing a fair test that they agreed to in advance).

    Read Randi's website for examples of how people can convince themselves that dowsing works.

    Its no excuse for this massive charlatan, but it might explain how others fell for it.

    For the guy who sold them .... he should be put in a ploughed field to try and find the "off" button for a massive explosive device on a timer with one of his own toys and a shovel.

    On live TV.

    I'd even Sky+ it :)

  22. Earth Resident

    The scam and stupidity are not the worst part

    I agree that the seller of these bogus devices should get at least 10 years. More importantly, his assets from the fraud should be seized. In addition whoever approved the purchase should be investigated and disciplined or in some case dismissed for wasting government funds.

    IMHO, the worst part in this case is not their lack of effectiveness but their fraudulent perceived effectiveness.

    Think about it, if one has half a brain cell firing, one can easily determine the the major "ionic force" affecting this device is gravity. Depending upon the direction of the tilt of the handle, the wire will point in any direction an unscrupulous operator wishes -- duh.

    Do I want probable cause to search a locker or a vehicle or any other place? Pull out the magic wand and whether there's the sought after article or not there, any proper procedure requiring evidence is bypassed. The fraudulent magic device provides instant probable cause.

    I think there was more than just routine bribery at work here. Every purchaser should be investigated and each instance of its use scrutinized.

  23. Neil Hoskins

    But...

    ...from what we've been reading on these pages over the years, it's just an extreme example. Most of the devices and security measures in place at airports are a complete sham, to keep the public scared and the terrorists thinking they might get caught. They're still taking drinking water off passengers, despite the fact that there was never a viable liquid bomb plot. At Schipol, they make you stand in a big perspex box that looks like it's out of Star Trek, which I can say with a fair degree of confidence, does FUCK ALL.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Money increase institutional stupidity!

    ... And an obscene amount of money has gone into "Circus Security" during the last two decades. Possibly so much money is sloshing around that it cannot be spent effectively and people have to resort to cutting corners and downright fraud in order to produce "The Numbers" that their employers want to see.

    It is comforting that a tiny fraction of the total waste was spent on more sensible things than the ritual bombing of rubble into smaller rubble, mixed with brown people, from air-conditioned trailers in Arizona:

    The court heard that McCormick was the sole shareholder in the enterprise and spent his proceeds on a lavish lifestyle, including a £3.5m townhouse with a basement swimming pool in the posh UK city of Bath, holiday homes in Florida and Cyprus, and a £630,000 motorboat he christened "Aesthete".

    PS: If this perp was a banker, he would have got off better than clean - with a bonus, golden parachute and a complimentary blowjob from Obama - like the dum-dums who actually bought this product probably did.

  25. scruncher
    Megaphone

    Western forces must have been in on the scam

    C4 News last night interviewed an ex bomb disposal guy who said that UK and US forces knew a decade ago that these devices were bogus. It was 'common knowledge'. And yet they somehow managed to work side by side with Iraqi forces for most of those 10 years without ever pointing this out? Seems like the media ought to be asking some obvious questions of the top brass.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Western forces must have been in on the scam

      Ever worked in a place infected by "LEAN" or "KPI" or "TQM" or "Six-Sigma" or does hiring based on "personality tests" and/or recruitment consluttants who interpret handwriting?

      People are expected to be "team players". The "team players", who are smart enough to appreciate how the scam meshes with office politics, are also smart enough to go with the flow and stick their nose in the trough.

      Even when *Everybody* knows that the latest religion is mostly crap one can only hope it will be useless rather than damaging.

      When one is standing at a road block in Iraq, ... well ..., not detecting the bomb avoids having an unfortunately, possibly career-ending, shootout with the terrorists right here ... and maybe one does not really care for the people in the other end of town ... or at the American base .. where the device is going.

    2. Alan Firminger

      Yes ! Why did no customer test a sample ?

      The military live with explosives, it is their job.

      So before order placement why were demolition experts not given a sample and told to try the device?

  26. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Devil

    Collateral Bomb Obligation!

    "I think, deliberately, McCormick targeted troubled countries, countries that were trying to recover from conflict, and perhaps hadn't got an established law enforcement and government structure and I think he exploited that"

    You can also target countries with a fully established law enforcement and government structure that is so overweight that cronyism and f*cktardism (not to mention economic dogma picked up serial socialistic interventions) are the only things still greasing the wheels.

    Go ahaead, make some money, young man!

  27. david 12 Bronze badge

    BAE

    10 years for competing with BAE Systems plc

  28. The BigYin

    What about everyone else?

    Will the civil servants etc who purchased these face censure? (My guess is no)

    Did any person from the UK aid their sale (e.g. ECGD, MP, civil servant)? Will they face censure? (My guess is no).

    Now that he has been prosecuted, can we now move on to homoeopathy, chiropractors, mediums etc etc?

  29. Nifty
    Facepalm

    Benefits of science-literacy

    Would not a teenage kid doing a science GCSE not have instantly found the sight of these gadgets with their telescopic aerials sticking out utterly implausible? Sales of these were driven by pure corruption we know, but was there no free media in Iraq that would want to expose this?

    This tells us more about the state of Iraq than it does about justice for fraudsters.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Youtube

    There's a video of this device being tested on Youtube by the thai border police, doesn't make much sense but it must be a setup.

  31. Hayden Clark Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Plainly, he has annoyed somebody in power

    Otherwise he would not have been singled out.

  32. Yag
    Unhappy

    "he hasn't had customer complaints about the efficacy of the devices"

    Customers reduced to a cloud of expanding meat pieces will have a hard time to complain...

  33. smileypete
    Facepalm

    Didn't anyone think to open one up?

  34. Terry 6 Silver badge
    WTF?

    No one looked inside, implausible

    An awful lot of people, including in the UK, must have been fully aware of this device and kept quiet. For a start, if you are in ANY business and you hear of a product that is so successful you are going to want to have a dekko inside. And that includes weapons experts, sellers, competitors etc etc. (Not to mention the idly curious).

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "McCormick, a former Merseyside policeman" SAYS IT ALL!

  36. Anonymous John

    "McCormick, who still insists he hasn't had customer complaints about the efficacy of the devices"

    Dead men tell no tales.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Fake technology ..

    Why would anyone with the slighess knowledge of the technology involved, even believe it this. The technology as depicted on Star Trek isn't real !

    A friend of mine in the banking sector once described how management wanted a recording system that could take minutes of a meeting only utilising microphones. They couldn't understand how a speech-to-text system wouldn't be able to understand the context or meaning of the stuff.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fake technology ..

      "A friend of mine in the banking sector once described how management wanted a recording system that could take minutes of a meeting only utilising microphones. They couldn't understand how a speech-to-text system wouldn't be able to understand the context or meaning of the stuff."

      Has he worked for HP in recent years? Round about the time HP bought Autonomy, for example?

  38. envmod

    i think if you're stupid enough to fall for it...

    you can't complain. i actually feel pretty bad for the guy.

  39. Scroticus Canis Silver badge
    Facepalm

    How stupid can they be? Well....

    If the Iraqi government can make a bloke named JIHAD head of counter explosives I reckon that spending $85 million on crap is the least of their problems! Truly the loonies are running the asylum there.

    'General Jihad al-Jabiri, head of the Iraqi Interior ministry's counter-explosives department'

  40. ted frater

    Dowsing worked for me.

    on a sunny spring day back in 1974 i had an appointment at 2.30pm at the poole registry office witha particularly fine maid.

    It was a At 1pm I had a chance of a JCB for half an hour to find a well.

    I took a coat hanger ,made 2 rods and walked with them out into the field in front of the house.

    They crossed at a point some 10 yards from the fence. I walked the spot 2 times to confirm.

    I put down a house brick and told the driver to look there.

    Off I shot to poole.

    On our return with my new missus, there was a well with a cap stone some 3ft below the field level.

    we lifted it up and there was a lovely brick lined well of good water.

    Use it still today.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    "McCormick, ... still insists he hasn't had customer complaints about the efficacy of the devices"

    Gee, I wonder why.

  42. Robert Moore
    Thumb Up

    What I want to know is

    Where can I order the golf ball finder?

    I have a step father who believes such things, is an avid golfer, and fathers day is coming up soon.

  43. Richard Altmann
    Coat

    Hilarious

    This guy´s selling skills must be off the top shelf.

    To get into business with the likes who are running failed states like Iraq or Kenia there is no way around the "brown envelope", as its called in Uganda (another failed state). The UN does it, WHO and WFP do. He should be aknowleged for exposing this greedy, corrupt bastards on the opposite side of the counter. That these bastards are even considering to get away with such a fraud shows how "morally corrupt the society of a country in its self is"(citation of an Ugandan MP). For getting an IED or car bomb into the green zone of Baghdad it only needs some Bakshish or "I know, where your family lives" to pass the roadblock. Operational searching device or not. McCormick has outstanding sales skills and should be, if at all, sentenced to 10 years of shoe repairs and key copying. Well, he might own the company after he´s done his time. Business idea for free: Divining rods for minesweepers.

    Icon: My butler, checking my coat for IEDs before i put on

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Security" industry infested with fraudulent claims - selling to meatheads

    Once upon a time, the facial recognition industry claimed that they'd be able to pan a camera across the seated crowd at the USA Superbowl and instantly pick out all the wanted criminals. Do the math: even in HD, each face would be on the order of ten pixels high; just barely enough to detect it's probably a face at all.

    Similar claims made for detection of "suspiciously nervous" fidgeting with zero understanding of the cost of false positives.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Security" industry infested with fraudulent claims - selling to meatheads

      "pan a camera across the seated crowd at the USA Superbowl and instantly pick out all the wanted criminals. Do the math: even in HD, each face would be on the order of ten pixels high;"

      Er, surely the face size in pixels depends on the camera lens's focal length? Short focus (wide angle): not many pixels per face, lots of faces in any given frame, may or may not fit a whole audience in one frame without panning. Long focal length ("telephoto"): many pixels per face, fewer faces in any given frame, hence definite need for panning to see lots of people.

      Mind you, you're right about the general trustworthiness of much of the 'security theatre' industry.

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