Selling Phony Bomb Detectors Gets British Con Man 10 Years

Image: Selling Phony Bomb Detectors Gets British Con Man 10 Years James McCormick arrives at the Old Bailey in Central London on May 2 to be sentenced after being convicted of selling fake bomb detectors to Iraq and other countries.

Thursday, 02 May 2013 02:49 PM

By Michael Mullins

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James McCormick, a British con man who sold thousands of phony bomb detectors to various government and private entities in war-torn regions around the globe, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Thursday.

The 57-year-old McCormick reportedly earned more than $85 million selling the devices, which investigators said were nothing more than novelty golf ball finders with the company's sticker removed.

Costing less than $50 each, about 7,000 phony bomb detectors were sold for between $2,500 and $30,000 per unit, the Guardian reported.

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"Your fraudulent conduct in selling so many useless devices for simply enormous profit promoted a false sense of security and in all probability materially contributed to causing death and injury to innocent individuals," the judge told McCormick.

In terms of culpability and harm, the judge said he couldn't imagine a more serious a case than McCormick's.

"The device was useless, the profit outrageous and your culpability as a fraudster has to be placed in the highest category," the judge added while delivering the sentence. "Soldiers, police forces, border customs officers, hotel security staff and many others trusted their lives to the overpriced devices sold by you."

Describing the device to the jury, a scientist said its antenna was "no more a radio antenna than a nine-inch nail."

In his sales pitch, McCormick claimed the gadgets were able to detect explosive devices buried underground as well as ones contained inside lead-lined rooms.

Authorities became aware of the fraud from an unidentified Iraqi whistleblower.

Millions of dollars in bribes were reportedly paid by McCormick to various senior Iraqi officials to ensure the deals went through.

Iraqi Army General Jihad al-Jabiri, who was responsible for overseeing the Baghdad bomb squad, is already imprisoned in connection with corruption charges relating to the investigation.

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Iraqi exiles were seeking compensation from McCormick after it was reported that authorities were in the process of seizing his assets estimated at nearly $10 million.

"He destroyed Iraqi lives," said Nidhal Ailshbib, an Iraqi activist protesting outside the courthouse. "Thousands of Iraqi people are dead and handicapped."

Related stories:

Bombs Kill More Than 50 on Iraq Invasion Anniversary

NYPD Pioneers New Dirty Bomb Detection System

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