Friday 3 October 2014

Fake 'bomb detector' gang jailed in UK, but the essentially-identical 'Scientology' racket sails on regardless.

Some months ago, I posted an article about the tragicomic 'Scientology' racket.

At that time, I received various anonymous comments asking me if I'd looked at a UK based global fraud run behind a legally-registered British company called 'Global 'Technical Ltd,' but which had originated as a 'novelty' (i.e. fake) 'golf ball finder' in the USA?

 Fake bomb detector briefcase

Fake bomb detector graphic
A member of the Iraqi security forces monitor a checkpoint using a fake explosive detecting device in the al-Jadriyah district of Baghdad on May 3, 2013.

Former penniless UK police officer, Jim McCormick, turned multi-millionaire conman, posing as historically-important, visionary scientist and philanthropic businessman who had developed a foolproof device for detecting explosives, drugs, etc. For more than ten yearsMcCormick travelled the world claiming that he wanted to protect civilization from terrorists and racketeers (for a price).


My correspondents were convinced that, due to the nature of the effectively-valueless, and useless, comic-book 'bomb/substance detecting' device which had been cobbled together, and peddled all over the globe (with the assistance of corrupt, and/or stupid, government officials), by the bosses of 'Global Technical Ltd.' (for several thousands dollars a piece), the company must have been yet another front for 'Scientology.'

I have to say that the tragicomic racket that has recently been uncovered in the UK, does look frighteningly familiar.

Former penniless science-fiction author, turned multi-millionaire, cultic racketeer, L. Ron Hubbard, posing as a historically-important,visionary scientist and philanthropist who had discovered the secret of how ordinary humans can become healthy, wealthy happy and free super humans. Hubbard was also prepared to share this secret with anyone (for a price).

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For decades, the bosses of the 'Scientology' racket have reaped millions of dollars unlawfully all around the globe, by peddling a cheaply-procured, and effectively-valueless and useless, comic-book 'detecting' device known as the 'E-meter.'

Joan and Samuel Tree

A DUNSTABLE pensioner who claimed his 'Alice in Wonderland' bomb detectors could find missing schoolgirl Madeleine McCann was jailed for a total of three-and-a-half years today (October 3).
Samuel Tree, 67, and his wife Joan, 62, of Houghton Road, Dunstable, were part of a gang of five swindlers who made more than £100m selling bogus devices that put the lives of British soldiers at risk.
They both denied making an article for use in fraud.
Among their bizarre claims for the detectors was that the could sniff out hidden ivory at a distance of three miles.
The Trees also insisted they had tracked the missing three-year-old to a site on the M48 motorway.
In reality, the devices were cheap plastic boxes imported from China and assembled in the couple's garden shed in Dunstable at a cost of just £5.10.

James McCormick
Jim McCormick
Gary Bolton
Juries had previously convicted Jim McCormick, Gary Bolton, both 58, Anthony and Anthony Williamson, 59.
With the Trees they duped governments, armies, and even the United Nations into buying their useless devices.
Passing sentence at Kingston Crown Court, Judge Richard Marks QC said: 'You decided to market this device along with the other defendants previously convicted.
'Thereafter you commissioned the device's production in China, where the cost of an individual piece was just over £5.
'You had the device stamped 'Made in Britain,' which in my view is plainly dishonest.
'The device underwent various name changes over the years, but for all practical purposes it was the same thing.
'The modest production cost is a reflection of the fact that this device was effectively a black plastic box, one similar to what might look like a small radio.
'But this proceeded to be sold for as much as £2,000 per item.
'The way in which it worked was that a piece of card or paper would be attached to it, an image reflecting what it was proposed to be looking for.
'The ariel would then point to the vicinity or direction of the person or object being searched for.
'One only has to look at the bare facts to see this as a bizarre and fantastic proposition akin to something out of Alice in Wonderland.
'This device was completely ineffectual. The basis on which it worked was a complete fantasy.
'Even if you had not written line by line your own sales literature, the most customary glance at it would had put you on notice that all manner of scientific claims were mad.
'That you decided not to sell the products in this country and not expose it to closer scrutiny, suggests a great deal about your motives.'
The judge took pity on Joan Tree, who received a two-year suspended sentence.
Over the years the Trees made hundreds of thousands of pounds from the devices.
McCormick, who was jailed for ten years, raked in £60m selling his devices around the world, including 6,000 for use in the perilous Green Zone in war-torn Iraq.
He sold his machines to the UN in Lebanon, the military in Iraq and Belgium, and the Hong Kong prison service.
He paid £13 for the machines before modifying them and selling them for up to £27,000 a time.
Bolton, who was jailed for seven years, made £45m from the scam, duping British diplomats and Army officials with wild claims the devices could detect explosives, drugs, cash, tobacco and even humans at distances of up to three miles.
He used crackpot scientific theories to hoodwink Giles Paxman, the diplomat brother of celebrity journalist Jeremy Paxman, into supporting him while he was serving as the UK's ambassador to Mexico.
Bolton's devices were flogged to Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, Egypt, China, and Thailand, with officials convinced they were 'the best thing since sliced bread'.
The scam sold bogus products XK9, Alpha 6, GT200 and The Mole through the firms Global Technical Ltd, Tactical Electronic Services, CommsTrack, and Keygrove International.
Brendan Kelly QC, defending Samuel Tree, said:'It is agreed that Mr Tree played a significant role in this offending, there can be no doubt argument about that,' Mr Kelly said.
'Mr Tree is content for me to say on his behalf that the role played by Mrs Tree herself is substantially different to his.
'I submit on his behalf that had it not been for him she would not have involved herself in this plot.'
Judge Marks added: 'Financially this case will be disastrous for you because it will inevitably mean that you will lost all of your assets.'
The court heard that the Trees will likely lose their £180,000 house and £10,000 at a confiscation hearing set for 27 February 2015.
Joan Tree was also ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid community work.
Judge Marks QC concluded: 'Joan Tree, you are in a significantly different situation to the one of your husband in my view.
'It is undoubtedly the case that you played a significantly lesser role.
'You were concerned with assisting your husband, not marketing or selling like him or in training.
'You were, I am satisfied, acting under direction from your husband and would not have become involved in this situation had it not been for him.
'I have given anxious consideration as to whether there is scope for suspending your sentence, and I have by the narrowest of margins decided that by this lesser role this is just possible.
'You should consider yourself extremely fortunate as you have come as close to anyone to receiving a custodial sentence.'
She hugged her husband before he was led to the cells.
Detective Constable Joanne Law, who led the investigation for the City of London Police's Overseas Ant-Corruption Unit, said: 'Sam and Joan Tree were a couple driven by personal greed, manufacturing useless detectors which they knew were being marketed to police and security services around the world as being able to locate anything from hidden explosives to missing persons.
'The devices cost the couple only a few quid to make but were being sold on by agents for prices ranging from several thousand to half a million pounds, despite the fact they were nothing more than plastic boxes with a handle and antennae.
'The sentencing of the Trees is the concluding act in a highly complex investigation into a global criminal network, which over a ten-year period turned-over up to £80 million.
'Thousands of false substance detectors were produced and sold putting both the users and the people they were bought to protect in grave danger.
'The demise of these individuals sends a strong warning to anyone else who believes they can make criminal capital abroad while trading off the good name of British business.'

Luton on Sunday (copyright 2014)
From their suburban home, "Treetops", Samuel and Joan Tree were involved in an extraordinary international scam that reached several continents and, according to the police, put lives in danger.
The couple appeared relieved at the leniency of their sentences, with Mrs Tree seen mouthing "thank you" to the judge.
They embraced and broke down in tears following the hearing, which marks the end of a series of trials of several British fraudsters who made and marketed bogus detectors to trouble spots around the world.
The profits were huge. The police say they will now attempt to recover their ill-gotten gains.
Police believe the scam began in 1999 and made the couple around £2m.
The investigation found the Egyptian government had ordered one million of the gadgets, while the Thai authorities are believed to have paid £25,000 for a single handle.
Officers said one Alpha 6, assembled out of plastic imported from China, was bought for £500,000.
The bogus contraptions were based on a novelty "golf ball detector" called the Gopher which sold for around $20 (£12) in the US.
The Gopher next to the Trees' AlphaIn the US, the FBI declared another substance detector based on the Gopher a "fraud"
The couple's jailing brings to an end a series of trials following a four-year police investigation into what officers described as a "criminal network that turned over more than £80m".
Businessmen James McCormick and Gary Bolton were jailed last year for versions of the scam, which saw the devices used at check points in Iraq.
Bolton claimed his GT200 device could detect anything from cash and land mines to ivory and tobacco.
He worked closely with the Trees after meeting them at an arms fair, police said.
The fraudsters and their devices
part of the GT200 fake bomb detector
The ADE-651 (supposedly shorthand for Advanced Detection Equipment) was sold to Iraq, Niger and other Middle Eastern countries by Somerset-based businessman, James McCormick, who is now serving 10 years in jail. The Iraqis spent £53m ($85m) on the devices at around £5,000 ($8,034) a time. Some sold for as much as £25,000 ($40,178).
The GT200 "remote substance detector", sold by Gary Bolton mainly in Mexico, Thailand, the Middle East and Africa. The device retailed at £5,000 ($8,034) but the highest price it achieved was £500,000 ($803,000). Bolton was sentenced to seven years.
The Alpha 6 manufactured by Samuel and Joan Tree and sold to Egypt, Thailand and Mexico, usually at £2,000 ($3,213) per device. The highest sale price was £15,500 ($24,906) Tree was given three and a half years behind bars while his wife was ordered to do 300 hours unpaid community work.
Det Con Joanne Law, from City of London Police, said the couple were "driven by personal greed".
"It's been a long and complicated enquiry and we've worked with law enforcement officers all over the world to make sure we disrupt this type of crime," she told BBC News.
"It can be incredibly dangerous if you're asking people to use equipment to detect explosives in the belief that that equipment works.
"They're putting their lives at risk and they're also putting members of the public at risk."
DC Law, who led the investigation, said the devices appealed to authorities because it was "an officer's dream" to find such an apparently cost-effective way of detecting a range of substances.
Despite the convictions, versions of the fraudsters' devices are still being used in many countries, including on Iraqi checkpoints and to protect sites in Pakistan, according to the BBC world affairs correspondent Caroline Hawley.
BBC (copyright 2014)

On September 8th  2008, a decade after a series of familiar complaints were first filed, Judge Jean-Christophe Hullin (representing the people of the French Republic) finally signed the order for two American-controlled, French-registered corporate structures jointly to face a criminal charge of ‘escroquerie en bande organisée’  (literally, ‘fraud  in an organized gang’). Judge Hullin also ordered that six current, and former, senior corporate officers of these structures should face the same criminal charge and other charges relating to the ‘illegal operation of a pharmacy.'

At the outset of this ongoing affair, at the request of a defence attorney, certain of the plaintiffs were apparently persuaded by an Investigating-Judge, Marie-Paul Moracchini, to withdraw their criminal complaints. This was because of procedural irregularities i.e. the Judge had allowed a large quantity of confidential documentation to vanish from a Paris Court House. Judge Moracchini had apparently made the ‘mistake’ of leaving all the files relating to the case ‘unattended on a table for a clerk to collect,' but without verifying that the clerk, in question, had received the message. Although a criminal inquiry was pursued, and a likely thief identified, no charges were brought. Ironically, this was due to lack of evidence. Subsequently, after a typically-protracted judicial system internal inquiry, Judge Moracchini was officially found to have not behaved improperly and, consequently, she was not sanctioned. However, these farcical proceedings don’t explain why it then took a further decade before (what remained of) the original case was scheduled for trial. By 2009, this accident-prone prosecution - which certain commentators are convinced the French government wanted to disappear for reasons of Franco-American diplomacy - was considered to be so sensitive that the French Foreign Ministry felt it necessary to form a special team to deal with an expected deluge of international criticism.

The initial trial lasted over 3 weeks and 40 witnesses testified. When the verdict was delivered on October 27th 2009, although an echelon of defence attorneys had steadfastly pretended their clients to be completely innocent of fraud, because they were being judged for their beliefs and not for their actions, whilst they had produced lots of satisfied clients and had voluntarily refunded the few dissatisfied clients, the two corporate structures, and their respective officers, and former officers, were duly found guilty as charged. The structures were ordered to pay fines totalling  600 000 Euros (approximately $1.1 million).

Image Temporaire
Deeply-deluded cheat, Alain Rosenberg, attempted to obstruct a journalist from lawfully filming his exit from court. Rosenberg has exhibited classic symptoms of totalistic paranoia - genuinely believing that he is an innocent martyr being hounded for his 'religious beliefs.' In reality, core-'Scientologists' are programmed to believe a self-righteous, comic-book narrative which has been used as the false justification for countless crimes since the 1950s. In this unoriginal, pernicious, cultic game of make-believe, high-level 'Scentology' initiates are a new Master-Race of morally, intellectually and physically superior humans who, alone, are engaged in a never-ending Holy-War against an invisible force of evil extra-terrestrials infesting the minds and bodies of inferior humans. 

The most-senior officers, Alain Rosenberg and Sabine Jacquart, were each given two year suspended prison sentences and personally fined 30 000 Euros, whilst two others were given suspended prison sentences and (along with the remaining guilty party) personally fined lesser amounts. The trial Judge, Sophie-Helene Chateau, explained that she had decided not to grant the State Prosecutors' original request for custodial prison sentences, because the offenders had given undertakings that they would, henceforth, reform their activities. Despite the remarkably-lenient sentence, the defence attorneys immediately filed an appeal and (completely ignoring the suffering of the plaintiffs) continued to invert established-reality by indignantly portraying their clients as the victims of a witch-hunt. The trial Judge also explained that she was unable to grant the State Prosecutor’s original request for the corporate structures to be closed-down without further delay. This was due to another unbelievable ‘mistake.’ This time, a vital section of computer text had been ‘cut, but not pasted’  by a ham-fisted clerk drafting proposed French legislation (enacted just before the case came to trial) which should have made it a simple matter of procedure to dissolve any French-registered corporate structure(s) proven to have been engaging in a chronic pattern of criminal activity. However, it had been feared that closure of these particular structures might very well have been counterproductive, in that the attempted prohibition of what they were peddling could have driven this criminal activity underground. Consequently, the outcome of the original trial was described by many well-informed commentators as ‘intelligent.'

Mme. Aude Claire Malton

According to the evidence which made it to court, it was in May 1998, that a 33 year old hotel governess, Mme. Aude Claire Malton, was approached on her way home from work (outside the Opera metro station in Paris) by a group of friendly individuals. They had no authorization to be soliciting in the street and did not fully-identify themselves, but they invited her to ‘agree to participate’ in (what they insisted was) a ‘Free Personality/Stress Test.’ Mme. Malton, who had never heard of 'Scientology' and who had been suffering from depression (due to a relationship breakdown the previous year), found herself unable to refuse, and she accompanied the individuals to an address in the rue Legendre. However, Mme. Malton's subsequent ‘failure’ in the ‘Test’  led to her becoming convinced that she had significant  problems which could only be resolved through the purchase of an exclusive, special offer ‘Self-Betterment Course.’ She had, in fact, been deceived into allowing herself to be subjected to coordinated devious techniques of social, psychological and physical persuasion (designed to identify vulnerable individuals, destabilise their self-esteem and provoke an infantile total dependence to the detriment of themselves).

In this way, Mme. Malton was given the illusion that she was making free-choicesbut she was effectively-coerced into buying a collection of progressively more-expensive, but ultimately-worthless, publications, recordings, treatments, medicines, esoteric accessories, etc. Fortunately (with the help of her family), Mme. Malton was able to come to come to her senses, but not before she had parted with more than 20 000 Euros (some of which she had been advised to borrow by an individual who was presented as a 'Scientology financial consultant').

One of the most-outrageously over-priced single 'Scientology' items (approximately 4000 Euros) is a handheld gadget, labelled ‘E-meter’ (capable of detecting tiny fluctuations in natural, corporal electrical resistance), which countless victims have been assured is part of a ‘proven technology’ for measuring and improving the clarity and functioning of a person’s mind and body.

The gang of high-pressure charlatans whom this unwary Frenchwoman had met, were from the Paris branch of a legally-registered, privately-controlled corporate structure, known as ‘The Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre,’ ostensibly 'directed' by Alain Rosenberg. 

The Bridge To Total Freedom: A map of every level and course of Scientology

The pseudo-scientific paraphernalia Mme. Malton bought, was the just the start of a potentially-limitless advance fee fraud to which certain victims have been proven to have lost amounts totalling millions of dollars over periods spanning decades. These fraudulent materials were mostly supplied in France via another legally-registered, privately-controlled corporate structure, known as ‘The Church of Scientology Book Shop.’ 

[Readers should note that, despite their misleading labels, neither of these ostensibly'commercial/cultural' corporate structures has any official 'religious' standing or privileges in France, where they have been required by law to disclose their financial activities and pay taxes on any net-earnings]. 

Sadly, this French prosecution is just one piece of a vast and confusing puzzle, because there are thousands more corporate structures around the globe (some of which have obtained official 'religious/charitable' standing and have been granted a tax-exempt status) engaging in unlawful, and/or lawful enterprises, which comprise the pernicious cultic organization most-commonly referred to as Scientology.’ 

These apparently autonomous 'Scientology' groups have their own paramilitary hierarchy of leaders who, in reality, answer to the organization’s supreme leadership.

When this typically-distracting tangle of Gordian Knots is ignored, and the wider-picture examined with intellectual rigour, ‘Scientology’ sub-groups are revealed as the spokes of a rimless wheel, all obediently feeding cash (and intelligence) back to the central hub. 

This vast corporate labyrinth is neither original nor unique; for the shifty ‘Scientology’ edifice has been maliciously constructed to a well-known esoteric/hermetic pattern in order to prevent, and/or divert, investigation and isolate the organization’s wealthy bosses (in the USA) from liability. By its very nature,‘Scientology’ never presents itself in its true colours. Consequently, no one ever becomes involved with the movement as a result of his/her fully-informed consent.

The setting up (and sustaining) of such a criminogenic system is defined as a ‘pattern of ongoing, major racketeering activity’ by the US federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act , 1970 (clarified by subsequent US Supreme Court rulings).

Why the French authorities (who have access to a veritable mountain of evidence stretching back decades) did not file suit against the real bosses of ‘Scientology’ in the USA under RICO, is not such a mystery when one realises the unhealthy influence ‘Scientology’ has wielded over certain thoughtless officials at the US State Dept and US Internal Revenue Service.

David Brear (copyright 2014)

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