Friday, January 22, 2010


Confronted with this story, I could only exclaim something rather rude. Turns out that James Randi, famous sceptic, has offered the man $1,000,000 to prove it works. The Beeb are saying he made $85M out of something that doesn't work, so I don't think he'll be after the million bucks any time soon.

There's a happy ending, though. Actually, happy for everyone other than the manufacturer.

I am very envious of the prosecutor that will get to open the facts for that particular case. The 'bomb detector' appears to have been an RF tag, as seen on frozen chickens and bottle of booze in this part of the world, and NO OTHER FUNCTIONING PARTS. Bloody hell.

So, I started wondering how so many people were taken in for so long. And then reality came crashing back in. Fraud relies on stupid people, on people who will believe anything. Suitcases full of cash in Nigeria that need customs fees paying. Lottery prizes for lotteries you haven't entered. Genuine examples, of course, which keep me in business to a certain extent.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Unfortunately, if you're reading this, the chances are you don't need the warning. And if you have no idea what I mean by that, then you should know that I have a package in customs with uncut diamonds in it, and I just need £12,800 to get it out. It's worth £14M, and I'll give you half. Wire me the money and I'll let you know.

It wouldn't be fair to bay for someone's blood (in a legal sense, of course), without giving him a right of reply. So here's an excerpt from his blog...please don't read it if you're of a scientific bent, as your head will explode.

Dear Annon. Your statement is totlally away from what the basic concept of how the product works. You are over-complicating the simplicity of the devcie as it is not detecting the 'static-electric' fields of any of the substances.
Simply explained....the unit is acting like a pure passive receiver. It is emitting nothing but 'tuning' to the the substance being detected. However, because of the very low emitions given off by the substance, it is necessary to generate a very high voltage that can only be created by something lke static-electricity. It is the combination of both this and the units 'receive' to detecting these very low emitting signals.
I hope this may explain.

To this uninformed, ill-educated observer, it appears to be, as we lawyers say, 'utter balls'. I will follow with interest.

Click if you dare, for more.


  1. I rather doubt the purchaser was 'stupid'. I suspect that the price of this product allowed for a substantial 'discount' provided nothing so mundane as a test were suggested. It might be interesting to know where the alleged $85M came from - therein might be found stupidity.


  2. I think it is unfair to say that fraud relies on stupid people (though sometimes it does and on greed). Fraud relies on trust. Every fraud perpetrated damages our ability to trust and without trust we will end up living in a very unpleasant, restricted, insular and controlled looks increasingly like we are getting there.

  3. About bloody time, I read about this bastard for the first time a couple of months ago and understand that the British military and security services have been aware of the products for years (some section of the British military, the navy I think, tested them and found they didn't work). Why did it take so long for action to be taken?

  4. You don't have to be stupid or greedy to fall for a scam. Merely uninformed or compassionate. It didn't take lomg for fake charitable appeal scams to appear after the Haiti earthquake.

    Incidentally there is one scam aimed specifically at the legal profession, and which has caught several US lawyers. One UK lawyer has recently been targetted.
    It doesn't seem possible to copy and paster links here, but search for "delinquent money" in the forums at

  5. I suppose placebo bomb detectors could be useful if they cause stopped drivers who are carrying bombs to become anxious and behave suspiciously. However, the mere existence of a checkpoint would likely have this effect and any added benefit of a magic wand is likely to be reduced as people learn that it's just a prop.

    A real example of successful use of placebo detection: Some police forces in the USA have been putting up signs on roads saying, "Drug Checkpoint Ahead". Of course, there is no such checkpoint because searching for drugs without any reasonable suspicion would be unconstitutional. However, some people who see the sign do not realise this and throw drugs out their windows. Officers are then standing by to stop those who throw items and take the evidence that has been thrown onto the street.

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  7. Rogerh -- what's *not* stupid about paying $85M for bomb detectors that are supposed to save lives, WITHOUT CHECKING THE BASTARD THINGS ACTUALLY DETECT BOMBS?

    Anonymous the First -- sorry, but it does rely on stupid people. I appreciate that trust does play a part, but the stupidity is trusting an anonymous email address with several thousand pounds in the hope that the person on the other end will share $10,000,000.00 in cash belonging to their late father, the Ambassador of Sierra Leone, his excellency, etc. etc....

    Anonymous the Second -- not a clue, the people over at have been doing a great job, but the police only seemed to get with the program more recently.

    Arnold -- you've inspired the next post. Congratulations.

    J445744 -- snappy name, by the way. The behaviour of people at checkpoints is pretty universal -- how would you feel with heavily armed men pointing guns in your face and asking you lots of questions? Discriminating between 'nervous' and 'nervous because he is sitting on several hundred pounds of explosive' is pretty tricky. It's safe to assume terrorists study their targets, and know a little something about the methods deployed against them, and how to combat them. The number of intercepted bombs / checkpoint explosions cf. number of attacks on ministries, police stations, genuine targets, would be a fascinating and tragic comparison.

    Previous post removed for grammar crimes.

  8. Well, it is not stupid to sign off $85M for dud detectors if the money comes from a government account and the signer gets a massive kickback to share around. Especially if the signer is confident that he/she will not be punished.

    What is stupid is to fund such a government without a top class auditors office backed up with a firing squad.

    Not that any of this happened of course.


  9. AP - no need to apologise (I was the anonymous 1 earlier) - I think you're dead wrong. You misrepresented my comment as I acknowledged some scams are based on greed and stupidity, however ALL require some degree of trust.You are entitled to your opinion. We will have to agree to differ.