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Man Accused of Selling Golf Ball Finders As Bomb Detectors

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the how-to-defend-against-explosive-golf-balls-and-bananas dept.

Crime 131

CNET reports that a British businessman named Jim McCormick is facing charges now for fraud; McCormick "charged 27,000 pounds (around $41,000) for devices that weren't quite what he said they were." That's putting it mildly; what he was selling as bomb detecting devices were actually souped-up (or souped-down, with non-functional circuitboards and other flim-flammery) golf-ball detectors. The Daily Mail has some enlightening pictures.

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Time for Puns (2)

ButchDeLoria (2772751) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263197)

I guess you could say this con man is gonna get... ...clubbed.

Anyway (4, Insightful)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263209)

People are dying in wars because of reliance on these devices. He needs to go to jail...or the gas chamber.

Broader context (5, Insightful)

CdBee (742846) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263361)

The wars of recent years have been a major money-spinner for shady businesses and shady politics - viz the sale of near-unserviceable ex-soviet weapons in Afghanistan and Iraq by brokers, the tying of government contracts in Iraq to western suppliers of telecomms equipment (Iraq had a fairly functional GSM network and this was nearly ripped out in favour of CDMA), the Westernisation of the oil industry in Iraq..

the broader fraud in my eyes is the concept that western systems of bid & contract and multi-party democracy can work anywhere. Maybe its true on a long-enough timeline, but we're seeing short-term consequences in terms of bidding that isnt fair, contracts not based on good principles of business and knowledge (above all things capitalism requires good knowledge and assessment of the options), 'multi-party systems' that just formalise existing factions on tribal, cultural and religious lines.

What this guy did if accurately reported is shameful, criminal and wrong. I hope he'll be made an example of. I don't imagine it will make much difference on a larger scale. All thats unusual is he got caught.

Re:Broader context (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43263507)

In any fight or war, there will be people taking whatever financial advantage they can, and these recent wars are no different. That isn't so much the unusual part to me, instead the particular way that some people have done it. There seems to be a whole miniature industry for making fraudulent bomb detectors once someone realized they could BS their way through tests, and that there are enough countries they could do reasonably well at least one tests via luck. While it might be tough to argue that someone should be punished for having a product that just sucks or under-performs, and it is the responsibility of the buyer to test for it first, because maybe the seller actually thought it was a serious product and was not trying to defraud. But when you open up the product and find it is an empty box, or that it has just a battery hooked up to an LED, and that it is "programmed" for detecting different things, from drugs to explosives, by inserting a piece of blank cardboard, then maybe there should be a case for fraud, and it should be allowed to go on for years.

Re:Broader context (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43263531)

it should be allowed to go on for years.

shouldN'T be allowed to go on for years...

Re:Broader context (1, Offtopic)

webmistressrachel (903577) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264767)

Why add "NT" to anything at all, ever? Microsoft did that, and got us all bogged down on a more reliable, but just as evil, proprietory kernel which we'd have ditched for something better* sometime between Windows 98 and Windows ME (NT4 SP4 had real-time audio!) if Win2k and XP had not come along...

*had the barriers to entry not been so high at the time - ie proprietory AAA game support!)

PS - in response to the inevitable future post by an AC:

| "NT SP4 had real-time audio!"

[citation needed]

webmistressrachel sid=3577793 pid=inthefuture

Read the Unreal Tournament documentation dumbass... ;-)

--my footer --

Re:Broader context (2)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264373)

The wars of recent years have been a major money-spinner for shady businesses and shady politics...

FTFY: Wars have always been a major money-spinner for shady businesses and shady politics.

Re:Anyway (3, Informative)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264385)

Anyone who would buy one and send it into a war zone without testing should go to jail.

(from the submission) The Daily Mail has some enlightening pictures.

No, they don't. They have more pictures of the area he lived than of the device. Where's a picture of the golf ball finder? Who pays money for a golf ball finder? Does it still work as a golf ball finder? Who bought them? Was it like US body armour, where the friends and family of the soldier would send it too them because the military didn't have enough, or was it an "official" purchase, and he was a military contractor? Did the device still do anything at all?

Re:Anyway (1)

quenda (644621) | about a year and a half ago | (#43267051)

Anyone who would buy one and send it into a war zone without testing should go to jail.

Oh please, there is no chance even of the mass-murdering politicians who started the wars going to jail.
This guy will probably be head-hunted as an executive for Northrop Grumann or Halliburton.

Re:Anyway (0)

anagama (611277) | about a year and a half ago | (#43266029)

People are dying in wars because of reliance on these devices. He needs to go to jail...or the gas chamber.

This guy is small potatoes compared to real war criminals like Cheney, GWB, Obama, etc. And he obviously didn't study Haliburton's business methods in any depth.

What about the retards who were buying them? (1)

xQx (5744) | about a year and a half ago | (#43266181)

Sooo,

Surely some boffin should've spent 5 minutes with one of these devices in a munitions locker to test if the damn thing worked?

Here we have stories of the Chinese setting up buildings full of hackers to thwart the western forces, when all they have to do is put 'this is rock repels rockets' stickers on rocks and get this guy to sell them to the UK and US military for $40,000 a pop.

Like lemmings off a freakin cliff.

Re:Anyway (3, Insightful)

quenda (644621) | about a year and a half ago | (#43267077)

He sold a divining rod. Is it really any different to people selling alternative medicine, or prayer?

Travel Adivsory (4, Funny)

pellik (193063) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263237)

Travelling Golfers should be aware that the TSA (or UK equivalent) may not take kindly to the presence of Golf Balls in your luggage.

Re:Travel Adivsory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43263257)

Time to call in a bomb threat for the next PGA event...

Re:Travel Adivsory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43264323)

This.

Re:Travel Adivsory (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264383)

I always have golf balls in my luggage.

Re:Travel Adivsory (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264477)

Or in any body cavity

Re:Travel Adivsory (4, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264885)

Travelling Golfers should be aware that the TSA (or UK equivalent) may not take kindly to the presence of Golf Balls in your luggage.

Like any modern government agency, they've never been fond of people with balls.

Makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43263239)

I guess it's hard to find someone's balls after a explosion.

His mistake (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43263243)

Well, has happened before. [wikipedia.org] . I guess his mistake was that the units didn't produce enough positive hits - regardless of their accuracy.

Re:His mistake (4, Informative)

Shimbo (100005) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263387)

The device referrred to in the Wikipedia article is the one we are talking about here.

"In March of 2013, James McCormick went on trial in the UK on fraud charges".

Title not entirely accurate (5, Informative)

TheMMaster (527904) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263247)

The man was selling dousing rods which were labeled as golfball finders as bombdetectors.

They were equally successful at either task. They weren't golfball detectors any more than they were bomb detectors. The con was the dousing rod aspect of it, not the 'golf ball finder' stuff. The problem is people believing in magic, not a mislabeled golfbal detector.

Re:Title not entirely accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43263307)

So... two wrongs make a right.

Re:Title not entirely accurate (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263383)

So... two wrongs make a right.

No, but three do.

Re:Title not entirely accurate (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43263685)

No. Three lefts make a right.

Re:Title not entirely accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43263761)

How left? Labour left or communist left?

Re:Title not entirely accurate (2)

HybridST (894157) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263791)

Yes.

Re:Title not entirely accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43263799)

I'm not sure. Which one's closer to pi/2 ?

Re:Title not entirely accurate (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about a year and a half ago | (#43265085)

But only in Britain.

Re:Title not entirely accurate (5, Insightful)

ChrisKnight (16039) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263441)

This was not a case of people believing in magick. This was a case of someone taking a fake product, slapping fake certification labels on the outside, fake circuit boards on the inside, adding bogus 'smart cards', and selling it as a high-tech piece of hardware. It was a scam, but in this case there was active deceit that didn't need to rely on people's belief in 'dousing'; he relied on people's faith in technology and their unwillingness to crack open the case. This would have never fooled a person with the Maker Mentality. :)

Re:Title not entirely accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43263631)

It shouldn't have required even opening the case, considering some such devices were advertised as being able to find everything from explosives and drugs, to ivory and counterfeit banknotes. And it didn't require any power, being powered by static electricity, but also required that the user be in the right mindset and influenced by the user's mood. But there were people who opened the cases and saw how non-existent the innards are, and the company responds with vague legal threats and moral charges that people critical of the device were trying to get people in Iraq killed by preventing the device's use. At one point the guy said he thought people were only being critical looked to primitive, so he was going to fix that by adding flashing lights. It doesn't take someone with a maker mentality to see through a lot of that, only someone with a decent idea of what technology works now, and how to test things such that a person actively trying to cheat the test cannot bias the test. And there were many such people involved, the problem amounts to the adage, " a chain is only as strong as its weakest link," because the company did things to avoid people who were critical and find someone, somewhere that was not and use them to get the product to sell.

Re:Title not entirely accurate (4, Insightful)

tlambert (566799) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263701)

This was not a case of people believing in magick. This was a case of someone taking a fake product, slapping fake certification labels on the outside, fake circuit boards on the inside, adding bogus 'smart cards', and selling it as a high-tech piece of hardware. It was a scam, but in this case there was active deceit that didn't need to rely on people's belief in 'dousing'; he relied on people's faith in technology and their unwillingness to crack open the case. This would have never fooled a person with the Maker Mentality. :)

I would agree with you in principle, were in not for the fact that the only bomb-detection equipment I could find on the web which did not require some form of direct contact with the bomb was a dog.

So yes, this was the agencies who purchased the detectors believing in "magick" [SIC].

Re:Title not entirely accurate (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264585)

I would agree with you in principle, were in not for the fact that the only bomb-detection equipment I could find on the web which did not require some form of direct contact with the bomb was a dog.

So yes, this was the agencies who purchased the detectors believing in "magick" [SIC].

They may have had some minor effect though. Not by actually detecting anything, but when dogs or anything that the searchee believes might find something is present the searchee tends to give themselves away. There are always minor 'tells' when someone is searched or questioned. They tend to glance at the location of a bomb or act fidgety or nervous. Of course it would have been far cheaper for the Iragi military to buy the golf ball detectors (which didn't work for that either) and rebadge the devices themselves.

Re:Title not entirely accurate (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43267093)

Actually, no, it's the exact opposite. The dogs react to the 'tells' of their *handler*, not the suspect.

Google it.

AC

Re:Title not entirely accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43265403)

There is no more thorough way of finding a bomb that setting it off, either deliberately or not. Staggering around with a divining rod that doesn't work would tend to help one suddenly discover a bomb.

Pictogram (1)

RDW (41497) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264561)

This would have never fooled a person with the Maker Mentality. :)

You cynics! This device is so sensitive that "in real-world situations, detection levels are in the pictogram range and below":

http://cominfosystems.com/Documents/Cominfo_ATSC_Brochure.pdf [cominfosystems.com]

Re:Title not entirely accurate (5, Informative)

colfer (619105) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263719)

Story broke in 2008 (Randi), NYT (2009), and then in 2010 the BBC did more work on it.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/8471187.stm [bbc.co.uk]
Here's the original WIkipedia page, from 2009, with the links to NYT and Randi:
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=ADE_651&oldid=323934632 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Title not entirely accurate (4, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263899)

Dousing is pouring liquid over something.
The word you're looking for is dowsing.

Re:Title not entirely accurate (1)

TheMMaster (527904) | about a year and a half ago | (#43266035)

Thanks, I didn't know!

Re:Title not entirely accurate (1)

Derleth (197102) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264335)

Dowsing rods are indeed crap, but this was more about straight-up fraud.

Re:Title not entirely accurate (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264433)

How is this any different than selling a dowsing rod? In both, the seller claims a function that doesn't exist.

Re:Title not entirely accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43264485)

it is one thing to believe a dowsing rod has some attraction to water, etc., because of some field or attraction between a person's subconscious and water, or some other magic mumbo jumbo. In that case, someone could easily be tricking themselves, and they are in some sense selling what they claim: a wooden rod. It is another when you say you are making a device with advanced circuitry when it actually has an empty box (or a battery wired to an led in later models). Or claiming the programming cards are paper laminated over a super secret chip, but it turns out the programming card is just plain paper and no chip can be found in it.

Re:Title not entirely accurate (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264589)

So fraud is more acceptable the stupider the fraudster is?

Re:Title not entirely accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43264863)

That shouldn't make the product any more acceptable, but it does affect how the seller/pusher of such products are treated. Just like with other incidents and crimes, the intentions of the person are taken into consideration. If someone dies because another person did something stupid or neglected something, it is handled differently than if that other person purposely tried to kill them. Fraud requires some intension to deceive, and it wouldn't be fraud if the seller fully believed their device worked and otherwise ran an honest business. But the more it can be shown that they are hiding things, ignoring blatant failures, or claiming they id something they very obviously didn't, the less doubt there is that they are purposely lying.

I suppose you technically can say manslaughter is more acceptable than murder, although it doesn't sound right. Maybe "less unacceptable" implies something different than "more acceptable"...

Re:Title not entirely accurate (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264419)

Probably read Joseph Smith's [rationalwiki.org] book on marketing and rube finding.

Re:Title not entirely accurate (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264493)

The man was selling dousing rods which were labeled as golfball finders as bombdetectors.

They were equally successful at either task. They weren't golfball detectors any more than they were bomb detectors. The con was the dousing rod aspect of it, not the 'golf ball finder' stuff. The problem is people believing in magic, not a mislabeled golfbal detector.

And the sad part is that the military bought some and never tested them. Seems unusual given all the rules about explosives and such, that they would not have at least tested them.

Re:Title not entirely accurate (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264501)

And the sad part is that the military bought some and never tested them. Seems unusual given all the rules about explosives and such, that they would not have at least tested them.

Nevermind, just read that it was the Iraqi military that bought them, not a real military.

"dousing" rods? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43265813)

It's "dowsing", Mr. +5 Informative. FFS.

Re:"dousing" rods? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43266009)

Not a native english speaker, sorry dude, didn't mean to offend your delicate sensibilities.

Re:Title not entirely accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43266323)

I think you mean 'dowsing'. Dousing is, scientifically speaking, perfectly sound, and in fact quite often required in the context of bombs.

daily mail? seriously? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43263273)

wtf is the Daily Mail doing here? It is a tabloid.

The "article" had more information about his stupid home than anything about his shady business practices or how no one noticed anything wrong with these devices.

Re:daily mail? seriously? (3, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263385)

wtf is the Daily Mail doing here? It is a tabloid.

The "article" had more information about his stupid home than anything about his shady business practices or how no one noticed anything wrong with these devices.

You're supposed to look at the nice pictures running to the right side of the 'article'.

R the FA, indeed.

Re:daily mail? seriously? (2)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263629)

It is a tabloid.

Barely.

Re:daily mail? seriously? (5, Interesting)

Aglassis (10161) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263755)

wtf is the Daily Mail doing here? It is a tabloid.

The "article" had more information about his stupid home than anything about his shady business practices or how no one noticed anything wrong with these devices.

How dare you slander tabloids by comparing the Daily Mail to them!

Why the Daily Mail is Evil [youtube.com]
Transgender teacher kills self after Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn denounces her [boingboing.net]

Fuck the Daily Mail.

Re:daily mail? seriously? (1)

Muros (1167213) | about a year and a half ago | (#43265421)

The little article about Jimmy Saville appended to the bottom of the page was a particularly disgusting piece of work. The clear intention was to portray the teacher as a child abuser.

Re:daily mail? seriously? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264865)

this ran on other papers too a while back.
people did notice something wrong with 'em.

but if you're in baghdad and need to order some bomb detection devices.. well, you might end up with something like this. I mean, westerners would govern and stop scams like this, right?

They are not even golf ball finder (5, Informative)

aepervius (535155) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263277)

They are dowsing rod using the idea motor effect to fool you into thinking it detects anything. Dowsing rode do not work. When properly tested for say, finding metal and water, in double blind, the dowser never find stuff above chance. it is pure flim flam. So even as a 13$ gold ball finder , it is a scam.

Re:They are not even golf ball finder (2)

Albanach (527650) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263389)

So the problem isn't so much someone trying to sell a dousing rod as a bomb detector. After all, your dousing rod is worth whatever the market for dousing rods will bear.

Really the problem is international governments' willingness to buy dousing rods for incredible sums without any testing to see if they're fit for purpose.

Re:They are not even golf ball finder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43263461)

Really the problem is international governments' willingness to buy dousing rods for incredible sums without any testing to see if they're fit for purpose.

The problem isn't doing so without testing (although that has happened a few times too...), but not understanding what is needed to make a test robust enough that a person actively trying to defraud you can't BS their way through it. These bomb detectors and others have been through tests, but then the people trying to sell them manipulate the testers or convince them to try again or that there was some random problem. The result makes it look like there are a lot more positive results than likely when it is due to chance and biased by BS and bad methodology. E.g., if you try to find a bomb in a building, and the device works similar to dowsing rods, the operator may have trouble finding where it is in the building but will show that it quite clearly points at the building. The testers might misinterpret this to mean it does work somewhat.

Re:They are not even golf ball finder (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263827)

Something that's obviously a dowsing rod doesn't merit testing.
It doesn't take a lot of common sense and logic to see that it's bullshit of the wishful thinking variety, and even if you lack common sense, as evidenced by being in the military, the method has been thoroughly debunked already.

P. T. Barnum's law applies, and at some point the desire to be conned and suspense of all common sense is large enough to be the responsibility of the mark, not the con man. I mean, don't sue Penn and Teller for tricking you. It should be obvious that they will.

Re:They are not even golf ball finder (3, Insightful)

glsunder (241984) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264179)

Our schools (and parents) do a crappy job of educating people on BS like this. Any _reasonable_ person would know it's a scam. But, I've met a lot of people who think dowsing works. Many believe in ghosts. If we started teaching kids about pseudoscience and the philosophy of science in grade school, there would be a much smaller market for snake oil salesmen.

should of called them geiger counters (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263341)

should of called them geiger counters

Re:should of called them geiger counters (1)

Shoten (260439) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263657)

should of called them geiger counters

He probably would have lumped that in as well, except it's a lot easier to test for fraud in such circumstances. Just turning on a geiger counter will get you results, from background radiation. It's a lot harder to get your hands on a bomb to test against.

Re:should of called them geiger counters (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263753)

it's not difficult at all to get a set of explosive compound samples for testing detection equipment, you don't even need enough explosives to be hazardous so security requirements would be minimal.

Re:should of called them geiger counters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43264581)

Except that some claims including the ability to find money, ivory, or explosives down to very small sizes including small arms ammo. One of the BS lines used to say why a test failed was to claim near by armed military personnel were providing additional explosive sources skewing the results.

Oh, and don't trust Geiger counter just because it picks up background radiation. It is kind of easy to make a Geiger counter register random counts but not respond to radiation, or not respond as you would expect. There is a reason they are frequently calibrated and good ones may have a calibration source built right into the side of the case.

James Randi has been warning about these guys (5, Interesting)

Cito (1725214) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263355)

James Randi has been really after this guy and others

it's just a dowsing rod and there are several people making the same device

Here is a video of James Randi warning others about the bullshit scam of this and others exactly like it in the UK

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruTmqfGJhTI [youtube.com]

They finally started listening to him it seems

Re:James Randi has been warning about these guys (1)

ConaxConax (1886430) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263673)

That's pretty amazing, James Randi points out their incompetence good and proper, and that video is from 2010!

Re:James Randi has been warning about these guys (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43263707)

James Randi was calling them out even back in 2008, offering them the million dollar prize if they would demonstrate that it actually worked. The company decided to instead of proving it worked, to instead blame people like James Randi as trying to get people in Iraq killed by depriving them of "needed" tools (also, they were making far more than a million dollars otherwise...).

Re:James Randi has been warning about these guys (1)

Shimbo (100005) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264413)

That's pretty amazing, James Randi points out their incompetence good and proper, and that video is from 2010!

That was just after he (Jim McCormick) was arrested, so that part isn't so amazing. However, Randi was on the case well before then.

Again? (-1, Flamebait)

Thrill Science (2845693) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263413)

Seems like just yesterday, /. had a story about this.

I'm torn on this one. (3, Interesting)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263431)

On the one hand, he's scum. On the other hand, anyone who believed

He produced glossy brochures to trick potential investors into believing the devices could detect tiny amounts of explosive from three miles away , the Old Bailey heard.

shouldn't be in charge of the fry/chip station, let alone be in charge of ordering military equipment.

Stealth UAV kit.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43263443)

Expert craftmanship - Been making them since I was a kid...short range version just needs a piece of paper. The longer range versions are rubber band powered and all are invisible on radar. $100k each.

Not news. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43263483)

People are stupid.

Alot of those people are in charge of important stuff like your tax money.

Re:Not news. (3, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263955)

Alot of those people are in charge of important stuff like your tax money.

It's worse. They're in charge of military decisions.
I believe dowsing works, I believe that family might have explosives, i believe we should call in an air strike.

Ask yourself this, do you feel safer with the guns in the hands of people who believe in magic?

War Profiteers (0)

benjfowler (239527) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263495)

There are no bigger cunts on Earth than war profiteers, or the evil rightwing scum, like Dick Cheney, who gorged themselves on the blood shed in Iraq.

There's a special place in hell for these people.

Re:War Profiteers (3, Funny)

geminidomino (614729) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264083)

There's a special place in hell for these people.

Yeah, on the board.

Re:War Profiteers (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264509)

You can't stop the profiteers. They see a need and try to fill it. We have lots of them in the US, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and the rest. What you can stop is the push for the "best equipment" to cover for poor training and lack of proper manpower. Shut down the standing military, and the permanently established ones that lobby for war to boost profits (the real Cheney betrayal) will shut down and move to other industries. Sure, you'll get the startups (Blackwater), but they formed *after* the start of the war in response to it. Much less insidious than those who push for war to increase their profits.

This guy is nothing compared to the waste spent in other areas by the military for something that wasn't needed. But he's who they are going after, rather than the people who buy millions in dowsing rods.

Vice News (2)

Nichotin (794369) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263503)

Vice has a report from Iraq titled In Saddam's shadow [vice.com] , where these devices are shown (and it is pointed out that they are a hoax). This kind of fraud is really one of the worst kinds...

You expect me to believe... (3, Insightful)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263543)

...that a military unit purchased bomb detectors never having tested their validity?

Re:You expect me to believe... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43263611)

actually, the DoD and NASA and similar organizations buy totally bogus devices all the time, in order to test them. Someone gets someone in Congress excited about their state of the art, super whizbang technology that will "save soldiers lives" (an alternate form of "think of the children"). The folks in DoD already know that the device is a crock (they've seen more non-functional bomb detectors than you can imagine), BUT.. they procure 1 or 10 for testing and evaluation. And eventually write a report that says "nope, don't work at all" so that Congressman who was beating them up in a hearing about "why are you not procuring Acme Corps guaranteed Roadrunner detector to save our soldiers"

Unfortunately, ACME corp, when they get the order for the test units, sends out press releases and changes their website. "Tested by DoD" (carefully omitting the results of the test) and "DoD procures research, test, and evaluation units of Model XYZ "LifeSaver" unit. Jake Blowhard, CEO, says "This is the first of several planned acquisitions that we hope will save the lives of our sons and daughters in dangerous war zones, as well as providing skilled middle class manufacturing jobs here in East Podunk."

And so it goes

Re:You expect me to believe... (1)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263677)

Yes. Because this isn't the first time this scam has been perpetrated on a military.

The US military bought an asslode of the same kind of dousing rod for something like $60k a unit several years ago. I just hope they were thrown out and never saw the field. A lot of soldiers can end up maimed and killed trusting this untested, poorly evaluated, pseudoscientific garbage.

Re:You expect me to believe... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264599)

The US military bought an asslode of the same kind of dousing rod for something like $60k a unit several years ago.

Facts with references, please.

Re:You expect me to believe... (1)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264677)

Michael Shermer noted that these devices are being sold to high schools for $900 a unit in his TED talk here [ted.com]

Unfortunately that was the reference I was thinking of, or at least the most prominent one, and it looks like it didn't make claims about military sales.

Make of it what you will, but I'm pretty sure I read about the US army buy the same kind of junk for preposterous amounts of money. I'll reply again if I find a source on that.

Re:You expect me to believe... (3, Informative)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264759)

Ok, I was a little confused about who bought it.

The Iraqi military and police have bought 1500 units for a total cost of ~$85 million according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

These are ADE 651 Devices desinged to make tons of money off of gullible people, and it appears that their use has replaced physical vehicle searches in some cases, which is just abhorrently stupid and foolish.

It looks like the US military doesn't use these devices, but has bought a few to determine whether they're any good. So I've been pleasantly surprised to find the Army wasn't duped in this case

Re:You expect me to believe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43264905)

They were fine with Iraqi 'military' paying for it.
That thing doesn't even detect golf balls (so that too is a fraud).

Re:You expect me to believe... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#43265551)

The Iraqi military and police have bought 1500 units for a total cost of ~$85 million according to Wikipedia

Yes, I heard that as well, it was widely reported that the Iraqis actually insisted that they had evidence that it actually worked.

But, these people don't live in the same reality as you and I.

Re:You expect me to believe... (1)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43265901)

They very well may have evidence that it works. Just low quality evidence that comes from poorly done and non-blinded tests. That's probably good enough for most people, since most people are scientifically illiterate and equate most science and technology with magic.

Most people are far too credulous, and will accept nonsense explanations for extraordinary claims as long as it sounds either vaguely "sciencey" or you tell them it must've been their god who did it.

What about the procurement protocol? (2)

talexb (223672) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263599)

It seems stunning that the British military would go ahead with a purchase like this without any field trials, especially for something as critical as a 'bomb sniffer' -- lives depend on this piece of equipment to work properly.

Madness.

Re:What about the procurement protocol? (1)

Shoten (260439) | about a year and a half ago | (#43263699)

As someone above just posted, they do acquire them...specifically so that they *can* do field trials. They buy 1 or a few, and then test them...and those tests indicate that they're a hoax. But the company that makes them proudly proclaims that they've been bought by X organization or tested by Y organization, in their marketing materials.

Re:What about the procurement protocol? (1)

oobayly (1056050) | about a year and a half ago | (#43264127)

Then that's a procurement problem. The units should be bought by the security services who "should" be able to do a decent job of hiding who the buyer actually is, therefore preventing fraudsters like this from saying "Tested by the British Army".

As an aside, I found it very helpful that the Daily Fail showed pictures of what the bloke's house "could" look like.

Re:What about the procurement protocol? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43264573)

The problem is that these units required a lot of training to use (considering they didn't do anything themselves..). And many actual devices out there can require a significant amount of training to use too. So in some sense, your test may be kind of bad or invalid without the proper training that the original seller claims is part of what is needed to make it work. You could have a company buy it and get the training, but then either the military has to trust that company, or the company would be a front for the government. That would either be really obvious and/or something we might not want the military to be doing.

The real heart of the problem is that people assumed, "Tested by XYZ," means, "Tested and found to work by XYZ." There is no a simple solution to that though. Although I suppose you could hope companies using that slip up in a way that can get in trouble for truth in advertising laws, or otherwise get a lot of publicity for being a fraud with such a claim and hope people start to notice.

Re:What about the procurement protocol? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about a year and a half ago | (#43265511)

A simpler way to protect against such fraud is having them to sign an NDA with high punishment for violation, telling them they are not allowed to tell anyone anything about the purchase until and unless testing had a positive result.

Education is just a waste of money! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43263627)

Am I right? Yes, am I right?

Need another article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43263643)

What I want to see is the article:
"Man accused of buying golf ball finders as bomb detectors."

I think that trial is way more important.

Ayn Rand (2, Funny)

IonOtter (629215) | about a year and a half ago | (#43265483)

Ayn Rand would be proud of this chap. Caveat emptor is a totally valid business model when dissatisfied customers are likely to be scattered over a 50 meter radius.

Re:Ayn Rand (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year and a half ago | (#43265735)

The only problem with that thought process is that while the dissatisfied customer is unlikely to be able to do anything about it once he discovers that your device does not work, he almost certainly has a large number of now unhappy co-workers, who just happen to be really well trained in, among other things, killing people. In addition the circumstances which resulted in them being unhappy have been observed to leave a small, but significant, portion of the population less than fully in possession of their faculties.

Re:Ayn Rand (2)

BillX (307153) | about a year and a half ago | (#43266711)

Damnit, there goes my sig.

TSA makes old story new again (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43265631)

You've all seen (I hope) the video of TSA agents grabbing drinks from the hands of people in airports, so they can dip their 'explosive detecting' swab into the beverage? This is exactly the same thing as the concept within this article.

Years ago we had the identical process used to send multiple Irish people to prison in the UK on false claims that they were bombers for the IRA. And by 'identical process' I mean a fake test used by the security services working for a police state, so that targets of the state could be harassed, imprisoned, and possibly convicted in court. In the case of the innocent 'IRA bombers', it was a 'chemical' swap of the hands- a charade designed to make betas think that forensic science was being done.

The technique actually goes back thousands of years, and actually predates formal science. In those early days, agents of the state would say they had a 'magical' religious item that would divine the guilt or innocence of types of people currently targeted by the state. Today, pseudo-science is used so betas, with their high-school 'education', can be convinced of the validity of the tests by propaganda articles in the mainstream press.

I have a memory greater than a goldfish, so I actually recall the promotion of McCormick's devices in the press back when he was successfully selling them to governments. Articles were written backing the 'science' behind the bomb detectors. You had to go to what Slashdot editors love to call the 'tinfoil hat' forums to find people expressing outrage that such devices were widely in use in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

But here's the point. Team Obama, and Team Bush LOVED to deploy devices like this. Why? Because as I said at the top, they allowed the uniformed thugs to harass and/or take-out anyone they so desired on the basis of 'positive' results for bomb signs. Most of those arrested would be found later by their loved ones dead, with signs of extensive torture- usually by power drill. Even you betas can read (at the BBC and in the Guardian) how the USA was murdering 3000 people a month in this way in Iraq to exterminate all effective opposition to the invasion.

Essentially if you were a male and expressed opposition (in any form) to the US genocide in Iraq, you would be tested with one of these devices, declared a potential 'terrorist' and taken to one of America's torture sites. Here, Iraqi allies of the Americans (Ironically people aligned with Iran), would torture you to extract names of future victims, and then murder you. McCormick's little boxes (and similar products from other sources) played a key part.

Today, the same Yanks that love to see their uniformed goons wage aggressive wars (the supreme crime against Humanity) are subject to identical treatment by the TSA. Pre-crime 'intent' detecting cameras. Chemical swabs. Commands to 'freeze'. Goons that use 'attitude' or big breast as an excuse to give a traveler 'special' attention. Alphas tell curious and dubious betas that it is 'security theatre'. The truth, ie., that Americans are getting the same treatment they dished out to Iraqi and Afghan civilians for the exact same reason, must never be said.

Morons here will dribble about the 'accuracy' of McCormick's devices (and mention the name of establishment shill, Randi) as if that were the point. When your rights can be stepped on when police state goons have 'reasonable' suspicion, the state will ensure said goons have the mechanism to rustle up 'reasonable' suspicion whenever they need it.

One last thought. Everyone who raped, tortured and murdered in the name of 'invasion' was given full and complete immunity against all prosecution by the UN. Of course, some armies still imposed 'military discipline' for certain crimes, when they became public, but every private mercenary was completely above the law, and not one was EVER punished for crimes in Iraq or Afghanistan.

£27,000 fine for Murder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43265741)

He's got off very lightly for someone responsible for the deaths of soldiers in southern Thailand who have been blown up when the devices failed to detect bombs planted by "insurgents".

More amazingly, the Thai army continues to use these devices to this day, despite their total inefficacy
http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/302383/use-of-gt200-will-continue

One sided (1)

Dereck1701 (1922824) | about a year and a half ago | (#43266857)

While this guy should be punished, those government officials who arranged for these purchases also deserve some punishment for their gross negligence. That there were no tests or apparent attempts at verification before purchasing such expensive pieces of equipment and sending them into a warzone is unconscionable.

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