I’m happy to report that James McCormick has been convicted of fraud.
Three years ago, James Randi was on my radio show to talk about a horrible scam being perpetrated by McCormick involving fake bomb detectors. His Advanced Detection Equipment was purchased in large quantities by the governments of Iraq, Georgia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Niger — but the devices couldn’t detect anything, as they contained no working electronics. They were made from less than $100 worth of parts and sold them for $40,000 apiece, netting McCormick $85 million.
These devices, no more effective than dowsing rods, actually endangered more lives. Thousands of them were distributed to Iraqi guards, who would stop vehicles at checkpoints and give them the once-over with the “detectors.” When they found nothing, as they always did, the vehicles were allowed to proceed and, in many cases, blow up. Lives and limbs were lost because of the reliance on these pieces of garbage — one truck bomb went undetected by the devices and killed 155 people; two months later, another killed 127 people. Both had passed through multiple checkpoints using McCormick’s useless collection of plastic and wires.
Last week, a British court found McCormick guilty of fraud, and he will be sentenced on Thursday (update: the judge gave him 10 years in prison). Authorities also plan to go after his money under the Proceeds Of Crime Act. An Iraqi army officer who used to lead the Baghdad bomb squad, Major General Jihad al-Jabiri, helped McCormick sell his scam, and is already doing jail time for corruption.
But here’s the bad news: McCormick’s fraudulent detectors are still being relied upon in some parts of Iraq.