It was a trail that lead through the New York Times (Iraq Swears by Bomb Detector U.S. Sees as Useless) and Bruce Schneier’s Security Technology blog (The Doghouse: ADE 651)… Then in stepped the James Randi Educational Foundation, as we wrote at the time, to issue a million dollar challenge to the company behind the detector, Cumberland Industries, of the UK, to prove “successful testing” of the device. Well, bringing things right up to date The Guardian today reports “UK businessman found guilty of selling fake bomb detectors to Iraq” It says the company involved sold around 6,000 devices to Iraq for up to £10,000 each, while the true production cost of the ineffective devices was around £15. Robert Booth and Meirion Jones write:
[The defendant] claimed they could detect explosives at long range, deep underground, through lead-lined rooms and multiple buildings. In fact, the handheld devices were useless. Their antennae, which purported to detect explosives, and in other cases narcotics, were not even connected to anything, they had no power source and one of the devices was simply the golfball finder with a different sticker on top.
You can also read more about the “ADE 651” on wikipedia. A very sorry story… See – Million dollar challenge for explosives divining rod