Magic wand bomb detector deemed fraudulent, inventor imprisoned

iraqRemember back a few months when news broke about a little device that claimed to detect different sorts of bombs? The ones that the Iraqi government spent $85 million on over the last few years even though American military commanders and the FBI stated that they simply don’t work. Well, as we all assumed, the ADE-651 is a sham. It’s just a dirty racket. Good thing that the British government finally caught on, banned the device and threw the inventor in jail. (He’s out on bail as of writing)

It seems that the heart of the device is ID badge-sized cards that are supposed to be used for detecting different items. There are different cards for everything from TNT, plastique, to even money and elephants. However, as the Cambridge Computer Laboratory found out, these cards contain nothing more than a dumb RFID tag. Seriously, watch the BBC investigation video after the jump.

ADE-651-278x300The device is supposed to work on the same principle of finding water with a stick, dowsing. The scary thing is that this was never hid from the Iraqi government who purchased thousands of them at a cost of $40,000 per unit. The damn things aren’t even powered. It’s just a radio controlled car antenna on a hinge connected to a plastic grip with a wire leading to a RFID card reader. Who knows if the card reader even did anything.

Jim McCormick as quoted by the TimesOnline,

“We have been dealing with doubters for 10 years. One of the problems we have is that the machine does look a little primitive. We are working on a new model that has flashing lights.”

The ADE-651 isn’t McCormick’s first unit. states that he has sold $85 mil worth of the devices over the past 10 years. Interestingly enough, James Randi previously offered up a $1,000,000 purse to whoever proves that dowsing actually finds anything. McCormick never took the test.

An export ban on the ADE-651 and similar devices start next week in Britain. McCormick was arrested on suspicion of fraud by misrepresentation but later released on bail. Who knows what will happen to him and his company, ATSC. But even if the courts take him down, five more companies will likely spring up around the globe and take up his cause of scamming governments while putting people at risk.