James McCormick made an estimated GBP 50 million from the sales of his non-working detectors—which were based on a novelty golf ball finder—to countries including Iraq, Belgium and Niger.
McCormick, 57, was convicted of three counts of fraud last month and sentenced Thursday at the Old Bailey court in London, where Judge Richard Hone called his profits from a “callous confidence trick” obscene and outrageous.
“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,” Hone told McCormick. “You have neither insight, shame or any sense of remorse.”
Prosecutor Richard Whittam said the devices, which sold for up to GBP 27,000 pounds each, claimed to be able to find explosives and drugs under water and from the air. He said that, in fact, they “lacked any grounding in science” and were no better than trying to detect explosives at random.
McCormick, a former policeman and salesman, had told the court he sold his detectors to police in Kenya, the prison service in Hong Kong, the army in Egypt and border control in Thailand.
“I never had any negative results from customers,” he said.