‘Magic Wand’ Bomb Detector Creator Found Guilty of Fraud
The bomb detector that 56-year-old British millionaire James McCormick peddled sounded too good to be true. It could sense C-4 at a range of 600 yards. And it could be programmed to root out other contraband, too. The pistol-sized device’s simple metal antenna would magically point to where explosives, ivory, even $100 bills were hidden. Authorities in countries like Georgia, Romania, Niger, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq, where McCormick was able to sell the detector, could, with a flick of the wrist, stop smuggling, organized crime, and deadly terrorist attacks.
Guess what? McCormick was full of shit. His device, dubbed the ADE-651, was bogus. Earlier incarnations of the detector, produced under the brand name ATSC, were based on $20 novelty golf ball detectors, the kind of plastic gag gift you’d give your argyle-wearing uncle whose slice off the tee is worse than he’d ever admit.
Sadly, it turns out the joke was on the Iraqi people. McGormick sold over 6,000 of these “detectors” to Iraqi government officials (after bribing them) to the tune of over $45,000 PER DETECTOR. And they were used at checkpoints throughout the country—actually scanning vehicles for explosives during the height of the insurgency that would see an average of 30 attacks a day.