James McCormick, “creator” and salesman of the ADE 651 or Advanced Detection Equipment, was given 10 years in prison for selling faulty equipment that potentially put thousands at risk. The sleek, black multi-thousand dollar device was supposed be able to detect bombs and other items—with bombs being the selling point. When an item had been discovered when a card appeared and showed what it was exactly. As a matter of fact, McCormick even had footage of the ADE 651 in action as Nigerian police scanning for explosives in a minefield. However, it was actually just a golf ball finder which was pretty poor at doing its job.
The Advanced Detection Equipment 651 device sold thousands. McCormick managed to make the ADE 651 for roughly $60 using the Golfer golf ball finder and simply changing the design. Detective Inspector Edward Heath stated in an interview with CNN that “There’s no law of science or physics that could make them work. He [McCormick] is a conman. He uses sleight of hand, absurd sales tactics to actually con governments, officials, private individuals out of money to buy this service.”
A former Liverpool police officer of less than two years, McCormick also sold radio equipment. With this blend of charisma and law enforcement know-how, McCormick had all the tools to move units of the ADE 651. Detective Heath mentioned that “He targeted countries where terrorism and violence was rife. They had such terrible problems with violence and terrorism; they were desperate for any measure to prevent them from happening.” McCormick sent training videos to Indian salesmen and said that he worked with explosives while in the British police force.
Heath also stated that the countries he targeted didn’t have the testing methods to make sure the devices worked. It appears that McCormick had used common knowledge of the financial and volatile of these countries and simply sold the devices using some charm.
The ADE 651 was made with parts from England and put together in Somerset by James McCormick for around or less than $60. He managed to sell the ADE 651 for thousands of dollars–in one case $300K each—to private companies and police forces. As a matter of fact, 6,000 were sold to the Iraqi police. British police suggest that McCormick got an Iraqi general—now jailed—to buy several units by paying off officials. The devices were used at checkpoints to scan for explosives and many sold are still in circulation around the world today.
Overall, McCormick made $60M over a 10 year period and bought an $8M luxury home that was owned by Nicolas Cage, a $1M yacht, and homes in Cyprus and Florida.