Another bomb "dowser" found guilty
July 27, 2013 2:29 PM   Subscribe

Gary Bolton has been found guilty of selling fake bomb detectors to countries including Iraq. In May James McCormick was sentenced for 10 years for committing a similar fraud (previously, previously, previously). The original fraud is now 20 years old.
posted by dogsbody (29 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
What kind of a cynical psychopath do you have to be to perpetrate this particular kind of fraud?

(And who in charge says "yes" to this shit?)
posted by edheil at 2:50 PM on July 27, 2013


(And who in charge says "yes" to this shit?)

Seriously. Oh, it detects drugs and missing people (from the "original fraud" link) from 15 miles away? How is that not ridiculous on its face?? Anyone who turns it on should have the bastard light up like crazy.
posted by nevercalm at 3:00 PM on July 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some choice details from the Wikipedia article:
  • Bolton's device supposedly worked by detecting 'neutral electrons',
  • could be configured to detect a specific person at unlimited distances with the insertion of a Polaroid snapshot,
  • was actually an empty plastic box and, best of all
  • used a 'locator chip' that (the FBI discovered) "contained dead ants that had been frozen and stuck onto paper with epoxy glue".
I think that those facts, if accurate, stand for themselves.
posted by Dreadnought at 3:03 PM on July 27, 2013 [16 favorites]


there is one way this device "works", in that it might make culprits act nervous at a checkpoint, or they might turn around if they think the guards have detectors. the device is predicate on the incredulity of the bomber, in that if he thinks the device works he'll abandon the mission or act nervous.

if the purchasers wanted a psychological deterrent they could have built their own diving rods for a few bucks
posted by camdan at 3:17 PM on July 27, 2013


Richard Whittam QC, prosecuting, told the court that Bolton knew the devices - which were also alleged to be able to detect drugs, tobacco, ivory and cash

How much of the R&D budget was spent on adding ivory detection? It's just feature creep.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 3:32 PM on July 27, 2013 [19 favorites]


His punishment should be being dropped in the middle of a mine field with one of his "bomb detectors."
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:36 PM on July 27, 2013 [17 favorites]


Well, surely the fake bomb detectors will allow us to spot the fake bombs.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:46 PM on July 27, 2013


Now we know where George Sr. managed to get rid of his remaining stock of Cornballers.
posted by Strange Interlude at 4:43 PM on July 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


On the scale of fraudlent items sold to the military contractors in Iraq, this barely rates a mention. I seem to recall hundreds of poorly armoured vehicles in the early days of the war that served no useful purpose other than to transport the occupants to early deaths.
posted by three blind mice at 5:05 PM on July 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also Halliburton shower installations that electrocuted soldiers.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:18 PM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


So this new balance box full of sticky ants isn't a quantum computer? I knew I shoulda put that on the amex.
posted by Divine_Wino at 5:29 PM on July 27, 2013


for reals everyone involved in this whole caper, from the supplier to the purchasers is a monumental dung heap.
posted by Divine_Wino at 5:30 PM on July 27, 2013


And all this time I thought when people said that quote about War being a hell of a racket I thought they meant it was noisy.
posted by srboisvert at 5:38 PM on July 27, 2013


Anything short of the death penalty would be too good for him.
posted by gyc at 5:52 PM on July 27, 2013


I'm an opponent of the death penalty but I can see life in solitary as a viable punishment for this sort of criminal douchebaggery.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 6:00 PM on July 27, 2013


Here is James Rhandi's take on the fake bomb detectors. It is worth your time to checking it out. The skeptic community has been and is always watching this type of behavior.

James Randi said:

The accompanying video expresses my thoughts on this rather important issue.

The intemperate language is, I hope, acceptable, and emphasizes my disdain for pompous "authorities" who base their opinions on folklore and superstition. I know I'll not hear back from the General I refer to, because, as I say, he's running… When we turn on the light, they run… Enjoy the video, and let us have your comments, please.

posted by dougdig at 6:59 PM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Looks like the only thing it was good at finding was money.
posted by double block and bleed at 8:46 PM on July 27, 2013


Yo, this guy really understood "security theater".
posted by telstar at 9:26 PM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


A similar justification was offered by the principal of Carencro High School in Louisiana: "I heard that there had been some trouble with it, but I tell you what. I'm impressed with it."
It must have been hard tracking down that Louisiana principal to the alley behind his house in Arlen, Texas.
posted by ceol at 10:14 PM on July 27, 2013


...was actually an empty plastic box...

Classic amateur mistake. You need to glue some rocks inside to give it heft.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:13 PM on July 27, 2013


there is one way this device "works", in that it might make culprits act nervous at a checkpoint, or they might turn around if they think the guards have detectors.

That works both ways. Just one culprit with brains and you'll end up with them being extra confident because those idiot guards at the checkpoints believe in dowsing.
posted by DreamerFi at 12:19 AM on July 28, 2013


-Bolton's device supposedly worked by detecting 'neutral electrons',
-could be configured to detect a specific person at unlimited distances with the insertion of a Polaroid snapshot,


Ah, Homeopathic Warfare.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 2:05 AM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


James Randi offered this guy the million-dollar JREF prize if he could prove his Quadro Tracker worked. He refused to test it, "as I predicted," says Randi in the film linked above.

Is Randi psychic!?!?
posted by chavenet at 2:38 AM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm an opponent of the death penalty but I can see life in solitary as a viable punishment for this sort of criminal douchebaggery.

I'm not a fan of either punishment, though I can envision a special correctional facility for people like him where all the treadmills and stationary bikes in the exercise room are connected to the driveshaft of a giant windmill that's used to supplement the building's air conditioning.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:24 AM on July 28, 2013


I love the LEO quote from the Wikipedia article on the Quadro Tracker: It's not near as consistent as (drug-sniffing) dogs, but there are no vet bills.
posted by gimonca at 6:37 AM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the kind of story I think of whenever people blame the victims of con artists for getting scammed. "If the guy can make money off of dumb people, more power to him!" "Consider it a tax on ignorance!" "Maybe they'll make smarter choices next time!" The sentiment seems to be, "Well, I wouldn't have been taken by such a transparent scam, so anyone who would is stupid and they deserve it." You don't have to be taken by an obvious scam to get blown up by a bomb allowed through by someone who was. A con is a con and there is often much more at stake than just one person being "too dumb" to see through it.
posted by Legomancer at 6:54 AM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Legomancer: I think some of it is that the people who got fooled are charged with protecting the public from criminals, but they bought into a bomb sniffer without doing even basic research to see if it actually was real.

Surely we want police departments and governments that actually make sure the security equipment the buy works. It's a bit like it a police department bought cap guns and didn't realize they wouldn't be any good for actually shooting people, just because a salesman told them otherwise.
posted by thegears at 7:17 AM on July 28, 2013


RonButNotStupid, there's a good scene in the TV series Lexx where the humorously slimy character gets belted into a stationary bike chair thing by the bad guys. There's a rack around his neck, and he has to pedal to keep a bellows inflated (air conditioning for the building). If the bellows drops below a certain point, a weight falls off, pulling out the pin that holds the blade of a guillotine. The rack around the neck turns out to be the guide for the guillotine. Good times!
posted by sneebler at 7:24 AM on July 28, 2013


"contained dead ants that had been frozen and stuck onto paper with epoxy glue"

+++ OUT OF CHEESE ERROR +++
posted by pompomtom at 10:56 PM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


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