Iran's Celebrated 'Coronavirus Radar' Looks Just Like a $20 Novelty Golf Gift


Iran’s technology has improved greatly in the past few years — so much so that they now have a COVID-19 radar that can detect the deadly disease from up to 100 yards away.

This is a huge development for the nation, one of the hardest hit in the world by the coronavirus pandemic. It’s going to be a massive export — as well as a way to put a stop to ravages of the disease in Iran.

Oh, sorry. Did I say “a huge development?” What I actually meant was “a huge hoax.”

The “radar” looks suspiciously similar to the fake bomb detectors originally sold by a British fraudster that were actually novelty golf ball finders.

And yet, in proof that old hucksters (or at least their tricks) never die — see also Jim Bakker, the disgraced former televangelist reborn as a prepper selling overpriced meals — either bomb detector fraudster James McCormick or (more likely) bomb detector fraudster James McCormick’s device has received a second life as a coronavirus detector in Iran.

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According to the U.K. Daily Mail, the so-called “coronavirus radar” is being touted as “state of the art” and can apparently detect coronavirus cases “remotely.”

The “unique instrument” is apparently supposed to use a magnetic field to detect whether someone is infected.

Do you think the Iranian government fell for a scam?

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps chief Hossein Salami attended the unveiling of the device, which he said was developed by “local scientists.”

Unfortunately, James McCormick isn’t a local scientist and his device is about as usable as a divining rod.

In 2013, the BBC reported that McCormick “is thought to have made £50m from sales of more than 7,000 of the fake devices to countries, including Iraq.

“The fraud ‘promoted a false sense of security’ and contributed to death and injury, the judge said. He also described the profit as ‘outrageous.'”

McCormick started out by passing off novelty golf ball finders that cost him less than $20 apiece as bomb detectors that he hawked for $5,000 a pop, before creating a more advanced — but still completely fake — device.

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“Police earlier said the ADE-651 devices, modelled on a novelty golf ball finder, are still in use at some checkpoints,” according to the BBC.

This shouldn’t be funny. This really shouldn’t be funny. I keep telling myself that. After all, the judge certainly didn’t think it was humorous.

“You are the driving force and sole director behind [the fraud],” Judge Richard Hone said at his 2013 sentencing.

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

“McCormick’s profits were obscene, and fed his greedy and extravagant lifestyle,” Nigel Rock, detective superintendent of the Avon and Somerset Police, said. “And finally, and perhaps most importantly, he has shown no shame, he has shown no remorse, and he carried on with complete cavalier disregard for the consequences of his con-trick.”

Now, if one is to extrapolate from the knowledge we now have, he’s now shamelessly pursuing the con-trick on Iran.

In all seriousness, I doubt McCormick is responsible for this latest fraud. It seems more likely that a) the Iranian government was tricked by some other huckster or b) the Iranian regime knows the device is fake and is lying to its people about it.

If it’s the latter, then you have really got to admire the Iranian Physics Society’s gumption in questioning the device.

“Human knowledge at this point cannot reveal or detect particles with dimensions of 100 nanometers. Such a claim is unbelievable and it’s an imaginary science,” the group said, according to NBC News.

Not that it’ll make much difference, given that the Iran either believes this thing works or knows that it doesn’t and simply doesn’t care.

One thing is for sure: the Iranian people don’t deserve this nonsense.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture