Where did purchasing go wrong: Businessman sells £50 Million of fake bomb detection equipment to governments around the world by Jon Hansen

Posted on April 23, 2013


The ineffectual detectors were used by soldiers and peacekeepers out in the field, putting lives at risk, with McCormick thought to have made an estimated £50 million from sales of his three models to Iraq, Belgium and the UN for use in Lebanon.

from the April 23rd, 2013 Telegraph article “Businessman found guilty of selling fake bomb detectors to governments” by Melanie Hall

When I first read the above article which reported that millionaire James McCormick, 57, sold “fake bomb detectors to governments based on novelty golf-ball finders worth less than £13, for as much as £27,000,” I had to read it a second time for the story to actually sink in.

How . . . how could governments and other notable clients such as The United Nations fall for this scam to a collective tune of £50 million or a little more than $76 million U.S.?  Based on this news I can now see how the horse meat scandal could have happened.  I wonder if supply chain risk includes stupidity.

Come on people – and given the obvious risk to life and limb associated with such an acquisition – how can we has procurement professionals procure something for that kind of money without first checking to see if the darn thing actually works?

Adding insult to injury is that the wily McCormick successfully sold these same placebo bomb detectors as a multipurpose device that  could ferret out “class A drugs, ivory and human beings at a distance of up to 1km at ground level and from a plane flying 5km high.”

I do not care how you try and frame this to do damage control, the procurement profession blew it big time.

Now that you know my opinion, what’s yours?  Did procurement drop the ball on this one?

By the way, I bet that McCormick’s device couldn’t find a golf ball in a golf ball factory!




Posted in: Commentary