A con businessman, who amassed a £50-million fortune by selling fake bomb detectors to the United Nations (U.N.), and a host of countries around the world, including Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Thailand, was on Thursday jailed for ten years.

James McCormick (57) from Somerset was convicted of fraud which, the judge said “promoted a false sense of security” and put at risk lives of innocent people through a “callous confidence trick”.

“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,” Judge Richard Hone told him describing the profits he made from his con trick as “outrageous”.

“The device was useless, the profit outrageous, and your culpability as a fraudster has to be considered to be of the highest order.”

During the trial, the court was told that the devices, which were sold for up to £27,000 each, had no scientific basis and were based on “novelty golf ball finders”.

One invoice showed sales of £38m over three years to Iraq where the equipment is still being used at checkpoints.

McCormick claimed that the ADE-651 devices were capable of finding bombs underground or under water.

“It’s a phenomenon. It’s been known for a number of years,” he boasted as his company used glossy brochures to market them to the military, police forces and government departments.

The prosecution said that the Justice and Foreign Affairs Ministries in Baghdad were hit by truck bombs as they drove through the checkpoints where the bogus devices were operated.

The devices “did not work and he knew they did not work”, Richard Whittam, QC, said.

McCormick’s lawyer questioned the claim.

Detective Superintendent Nigel Rock of Somerset Police, said McCormick’s “profits were obscene, and fed his greedy and extravagant lifestyle”.

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