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Is That a Bomb-Detector in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

January 25, 2010

credit: Johan Spanner, NYTimes

British police have arrested Jim McCormick, a former cop and director of a British company that sold at least $85 million of phony bomb detectors to Iraq. An audit showed Iraq paid between $40,000 and $60,000 for each device, essentially a dowsing rod for bombs (and more, keep reading). Iraqi has purchased more than 1500 of the devices at the inflated price, although the useless device was sold elsewhere at a bargain basement rate of $16,000.  

 (strangely, the cost of producing the device, which contains no power source, no electronics, and seems to have no internal parts, is reported to be $250, yet a toy gun for kids with sound and lights retails for less than $5).

In addition to finding bombs, ATSC, the maker of the ersatz detector claims it can find drugs, guns, human remains, ivory and truffles (though the price of the device suggests most chefs would stick with pigs for their mushroom hunting).

A similar device marketed as the “Sniffex” detector was purportedly “invented” by Bulgarian Yuri Markov. In July 2008 the SEC charged Markov and others with running a $32 million fraud by promoting false claims about the device to investors. The Sniffex and other such fraudulent devices are reportedly still on the market.

Though Iraqi authorities repeatedly defended the accuracy of the bogus bomb sniffer, they did last June report one complaint about its nose: the detector, they said, was especially sensitive to perfumes, leading to many false alarms, presumably when aimed at fragrant young women.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Bob Justice permalink
    January 27, 2010 9:19 pm

    Hopefully he will be charged with murder, as well as fraud. That is what everyone involved in this scam is actually guilty of.

  2. Diohuni permalink
    February 16, 2011 6:38 pm

    Latest news on the fake detector scandal here:

    and the blogs here:

    Spread the word. Join our new Google Group here:

    Join in. Spread the word.


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