I thought we were long done with the con man James McCormick, who sold Iraq fake bomb detectors and made over $80 million. That scam was first revealed by my friend James Randi more than six years ago (here’s our conversation about it in January, 2010), but even after McCormick was sentenced to a decade in prison in 2014, it turns out that Iraq continued using the phony devices. They’re nothing more than pieces of plastic stuffed with wires and an antenna sticking out of the top, somewhat akin to golf ball “finders” (they’re no help with that, either).
Fast forward to this weekend, when over 200 people were killed in Baghdad in an Isis bomb attack in an area with security checkpoints where guards use those useless detectors. Take special notice of this quote in the Washington Post from a police officer at a checkpoint in northern Baghdad who was still using one of the devices:
“We know it doesn’t work, everybody knows it doesn’t work, and the man who made it is in prison now. But I don’t have any other choice.”
Shame on everyone in the Iraqi government who allowed such fakery to prosper. Relying on McCormick’s garbage technology allowed people and vehicles with explosives to pass undetected — and has cost more than 200 lives.