An antenna on a black hinge was once a silly, useless gift for anyone trying to find lost golf balls. But British businessman Jim McCormick claimed the device could detect bombs, drugs, even ivory, turning a piece of plastic into a multi-million dollar business—despite knowing it was ineffective. And for that, a British court ruled, he has blood on his hands.
McCormick, 57, slapped a new label on the $20 "Golfinder" and marketed it as an "Advanced Detecting Equipment," selling them for as much as $5,000 each to Iraqi officials, whom he bribed. He improved the design and sold 6,000 second-generation devices for as much as $40,000 each, amassing a fortune of more than $75 million, according to legal documents.