In early 2010, BP blogged repeatedly on GT200 “bomb detectors” and other similar devices purchased by the Thai army and other government agencies. The GT200 device is a black plastic box with an antenna sticking out which was hawked to the Thai military and other agencies along with a few plastic cards for up to 1,000,000 baht (US$31,470) each by the British firm Global Technical. The seller purported the device could detect bombs and drugs.
BP first blogged about the GT200 device in October 2009. For further background, see this post from a few days ago which noted that the UK seller of ADE-651, a similar device to the GT200 and also sold in Thailand, had been charged in the UK with fraud. In that post people write “[i]n June 2010, the police raided the seller of the GT200 device so will the GT200 seller be charged soon?”. Then in July 2012 fraud charges were brought against the GT200 seller.
Four months ago the seller of a similar scam device was found guilty. Then last month, Gary Bolton, the UK-based seller of the GT200 device was found guilty of fraud (as blogged about by Saksith here). Now, The Guardian reports:
A Kent businessman who made up to £3m a year from the sale of fake bomb detectors around the world has been jailed for seven years by a judge at the Old Bailey.
Gary Bolton, 47, successfully hawked the bogus kit to military and police clients in countries including Mexico, Thailand, Pakistan, China, India, the Philippines, Singapore, Egypt and Tunisia despite it being based on a novelty golf ball finder.
The devices cost as little as £1.82 to make and were sold for as much as £15,000. They remain in use in Thailand, where human rights campaigners claim they have cost lives, and were only abandoned by Mexican agencies in 2011.
Sentencing him on two counts of making and selling an article for use in fraud over a period of five years, Mr Justice Hone said: “The culpability and harm of what you were doing is at the highest level because when used for the detection of explosives, in my judgment the use of the GT200, albeit in conjunction with other detectors, did materially increase the risk of personal injury and death.”
Human rights campaigners in Thailand, where the devices were widely used by the army and police, have identified two fatal bombings that killed four people and injured more after the device was used to check suspicious vehicles that went on to explode.
BP: Army Commander-in-Chief Prayuth and forensic expert Pornthip (both of whose agencies have purchased GT200 or similar devices) have defended their use with Prayuth admitting some soldiers still use the device, although he has said the army is looking at buying new devices. We know that hundreds of people have been jailed because of the GT200 device although the above mention by The Guardian is the first time that BP can recall of specific mention of people dying.*
There is some investigation in Thailand, but the DSI is a very political organisation and seems more concerned about investigating computer “crimes” and other matters which offend people than actual crimes. Also, finding a scapegoat will likely be difficult so BP doesn’t have much confidence in the investigation…
btw, have just seen this interesting article about the GT200 device that appeared in the weekend in the Bangkok Post…
*Although, of course, they may still have died even if the device had not been used as detecting bombs is not that easy…