A British businessman was convicted Tuesday of fraud for selling fake bomb detectors for as much as $40,000. Despite being “completely incapable of detecting explosives,” as police Detective Superintendent Nigel Rock put it, the devices are still in use.

ABC News explains the scam:

An antenna on a black hinge was once a silly, useless gift for anyone trying to find lost golf balls. But British businessman Jim McCormick claimed the device could detect bombs, drugs, even ivory, turning a piece of plastic into a multi-million dollar business — despite knowing it was ineffective. And for that, a British court ruled, he has blood on his hands.

McCormick, 57, slapped a new label on the $20 “Golfinder” and marketed it as an “Advanced Detecting Equipment,” selling them for as much as $5,000 each to Iraqi officials, whom he bribed. He improved the design and sold 6,000 second-generation devices for as much as $40,000 each, amassing a fortune of more than $75 million, according to legal documents.

Of course the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been a feeding frenzy for private contractors hawking any variety of wares and services. One man is convicted of fraud for selling a $40,000 bomb detector that doesn’t work. What happens to the man who sells the outrageously overpriced gizmo that does work? Here’s a thought: The Joint Strike Fighter that is supposed to revolutionize aerial combat cost roughly 50 percent more than it was supposed to as of 2010. Three years later, the planes still haven’t been cleared to fly. What a fool Jim McCormick turned out to be. He should have sold an airplane that didn’t work.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer.

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