The Doghouse: Sniffex

It's nothing more than a homeland security scam: a dowsing rod for explosives. That, and a pump-and-dump stock scam.

The site is down, but Google has a cache.

EDITED TO ADD (3/11): Much more here.

EDITED TO ADD (3/19): More info here.

Posted on March 6, 2007 at 7:51 AM • 78 Comments

Comments

t3knomanserMarch 6, 2007 8:28 AM

Yeah, I found this via JREF as well. The "defense" from the vendor was hilarious.

asdfjklMarch 6, 2007 8:30 AM

Here's the company description (presumably supplied by the company) from Yahoo Finance. It looks rather optimistic to me, and I don't think I'll be paying $0.065 per share for their stock any time soon.

"Homeland Safety International, Inc. engages in the manufacture and marketing of bomb detection devices. It has a license to produce and sell Sniffex in the Americas and worldwide. Sniffex detects a range of explosive products, including C-4, gun powder, dynamite, Semtex, and other nitro-based explosives from distances of 10-30 feet, when testing with 50-100 grams; and 50-100 feet, when testing with 1 pound of explosives. The company also has selling agreements for other products that are related to the war on terror, including Flashcam; Thermalcam; and bio-terror chemical products that destroy viruses and bacteria from anthrax to Bird Flu. The company was founded in 2004 as Sniffex, Inc. and changed its name to Homeland Safety International, Inc. in September 2006. The company is headquartered in Irving, Texas."

Erik V. OlsonMarch 6, 2007 9:06 AM

I get it. You poke it with a stick, and if it doesn't blow up, it wasn't a bomb.

gregMarch 6, 2007 10:55 AM

But can you blame them? I mean if theres all this tax payers money pushed into pork barrell projects, you might as we get some of the cash.

They might not be making anyone safer, but then niether is the boston Police.

Privacy-Rights-Act.comMarch 6, 2007 11:06 AM

Interesting,

Let me get this right, so a company that has rights to sell SNIFFEX is a pump and dump stock just because of some claims that this product does not work as stated.

Homeland Safety International, according to the website is new name because they now sell far more than just one product line, so where is the pump and dump. Seems to me the business is selling many products through many outlets worldwide, hardly looks like a short term pump and dump given the huge market they service.

So even if this SNIFFEX product was a failure, as was posted, does this mean all their products are failures? Just curious since it appears other sales were made based on proven results, so are they faking demonstrations, or do clients who purchased not care that they purchased a non operative device, and then don't complain?

Something stinks about this whole thread, and you don't need SNIFFEX to smell it.

Privacy-Rights-Act.com

gregMarch 6, 2007 11:11 AM

@Privacy-Rights-Act.com

You might want to check the background of the two guys running the company and there public company history. I said can you blame them, however they are crocks. No two ways about it.

Clive RobinsonMarch 6, 2007 12:04 PM

@Privacy-Rights-Act.com

As a "litimus test" for Pump-n-Dump type operations look for things like,

1, Investor relations
2, Stock Symbol
3, Share avaialability / price

And other "buy my shares" indicators on the home page, then look for the latest "buzz words" but no real product range information.

Then go and look at well known companies that have been around for a little while (say ten or more years) and see if they have the same things on their home pages?

As a general rule "If the home page mentions the share price, investor relations or stock market symbols then they are pushing their stock not their product so be cautious".

Of course there are some well established companies that do push their stock on their home pages, but all the ones I have looked at have connections to Venture Capatalist Organisations so again would you want to take the risk?

Of course like all stock market advice treat the above with the degree of scepticism it deserves 8)

CliffMarch 6, 2007 12:26 PM

Hey Bruce, ever think of opening up a hedge fund? Securities rather than security is where the big $$$ are.

John PhillipsMarch 6, 2007 1:01 PM

@Privacy-rights-act, it is not so much a case of it not working as claimed but of it not working at all. It is only dowsing under another name and has totally failed in actual tests done for the military but run under conditions the makers claimed it should work with the makers rep doing the test. They changed their name because Randi. follow the JREF the link given in the article, has been on their case for quite a while now.

skateMarch 6, 2007 2:37 PM

" Something stinks about this whole thread, and you don't need SNIFFEX to smell it."

Good thing, too, since SNIFFEX is a outright fraud and can only find things the "operator" **expects** to find.

There is a difference when a "product does not work as stated" and a fraud. SNIFFEX is that difference. Sniffex is a fricking dowsing Rod!!! Attempting getting the military to use this would recklessly endanger lives. There is simply no defense of this, the worst possible kind of fraud.

-In my opinion..

RandomOlderPersonMarch 6, 2007 10:21 PM

I googled a bit and came up with this gem:

"Sniffex® uses a totally different approach. It detects the interference
between the magnetic field of the earth, the explosive, the device itself,
and the human body which allows the device to penetrate and locate even
small amounts of explosives through concrete, soil, and metal barriers. "

Riiiight. . . . .

http://www.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/...

GopiMarch 6, 2007 10:37 PM

@RandomOlderPerson:
Great link. I especially liked this line:

"When Sniffex® enters into an area containing an abnormally high
concentration of nitrous oxide radicals, the antenna will rotate in the
direction of the suspected target. ?"

That's absolutely correct! It will rotate in the direction of the _suspected_ target. Because it's rotating based on operator input, aka ideomotor effect.

(Ideomotor can also be pronounced idiotmotor, particularly when referring to those who believe in dowsing no matter how many times they've seen it fail...)

Frank SchickelMarch 7, 2007 1:35 AM

Anybody else glance at their products and see this one: http://www.homelandsafetyintl.com/products/... ?

They'd better be darn sure they don't deploy any of these in Boston!

Features include two LCD monitors and can also include battery backup and loudspeakers.....can you imagine what they would make of speakers????

ProhiasMarch 7, 2007 2:51 AM

(Offtopic)

Does this offer an interesting economics/security analysis?

"The Senate voted Tuesday to give 45,000 airport screeners the same union rights as other public-safety officers, despite vigorous opposition by Republicans and a veto threat from the White House.

A broad anti-terrorism bill that would put in place unfinished recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission also would give airport screeners the right to bargain collectively. An amendment by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., that would have removed that right was defeated by a vote of 51-46."

JamesMarch 7, 2007 10:16 AM

You may want to chose a different simile: It seems like you're suggesting that a dowsing rod is a bunch of hocus-pocus and doesn't actually work. Yet a dowsing rod is an indispensable tool for finding water sources (and determining the best location to dig a well).

skateMarch 7, 2007 11:17 AM

"Yet a dowsing rod is an indispensable tool for finding water sources (and determining the best location to dig a well)."

Umm...actually, no they are not. If you dig deep enough you can find water almost anywhere on earth, so dowsers often genuinely think they can find water.

Dowsing does not work better than chance under double blind conditions or better than the actual knowledge or intuition of the dowser in known conditions.

Many controlled experiments with dowsers have proven this. There has been a standing $1,000,000 award from the James Randi Foundation for anyone who could dowse and get results that were above random chance in a blind experiment. The award has never been won.

Dowsing rods move not of their own accord but do to small unconscious movements by the dowser, called the ideomotor effect. The rods move based on the dowser's expectations not based on any ability to magically point towards water or precious metals. However, dowsers are often completely convinced of their abilities even when they fail controlled experiments. They will come up with a 1000 excused why they failed but still claim that dowsing really works. The psychological principle where someone is mentally unable to admit they were wrong even when faced with hard evidence is called cognitive dissonance. It is, I think, very common in dowsers as they are generally a very genuine but adamantly self-deluded lot.

So, James, I suspect you will say "No! Dowsing is real. James Randi would never give that money away. He's lying." But you can protest all you want but dowsers have not, do not and cannot repeatably pass a properly controlled double blind experiment because dowsing does not work.

Dowsing is imaginary.

Dave WilliamsMarch 7, 2007 11:31 AM

> It seems like you're suggesting that a
> dowsing rod is a bunch of hocus-pocus
> and doesn't actually work.

That's because a dowsing rod is a bunch of hocus-pocus and doesn't actually work. Head on over to James Randi's site to claim a million dollars if you can show otherwise. (www.randi.org). He's had lots of dowsers apply for the prize, somewhat fewer have actually taken the test and nobody has shown any effect other than wishful thinking.


cmarnoldMarch 7, 2007 1:11 PM

Uh oh. It's a NO2/NO3 detector.

Give these things to the Boston PD and they'll be storming every grocery and convenience store in the metro area to detonate all of the bombs cleverly disguised as whipped cream canisters.

Christoph ZurniedenMarch 8, 2007 6:11 PM

I wanted to see if my very own nose can do better and as one of my clients is a demolition-company I was able to do a small double blind test.

After some preliminary tests with different explosives we decided to use ANFO for the test, mainly because it consists of cheap ingredients and is not very complicated to produce, that makes the experiment easily repeatable.
We mixed 0.01kg of ANFO ourself out of 94% ammonium nitrate (99.5% NH_4NO_3) and 6% diesel oil (from a Shell gas station, but I don't think the smell differs much from the diesel of other oil companies). Three clean (annealed 5 minutes at ~1450K ) unglazed ceramic-bowls were filled, one with the 10 gramms of ANFO, one with a drip (about 2-3 mm^3) of diesel dropped on a puff of cotton wool (medical absorbent cotton) and finally one with 10 gramms of pure ammonium nitrate.
30 carboxes were numbered and the lids wer perforated with a fine sewing needle 20 times in an area the size of a 2EUR coin (25.75mm [DBB]). The three samples were randomly (with a die) distributed over six cardboxes such that at least three were empty. No cardbox had been reused, which resulted in the 5 experiments:
1 2 3 4 5 6
A E E N D E
E ND E E E A
E E A D E N
E AN E D E E
D E E A E N
N E E D A E
(A = ANFO, N = NH_4NO_3, D = diesel, E = empty)
The person who brought me the boxes had no knowledge of the content of that boxes (thus double blind). I had approx. 5 minutes training (smell at the bowls and try to remember the odour). The experiment took place in a clean and well ventilated room (a very slight smell of a detergent was detectable but not enough to tell the brand) of
22 degree Celsius (~295K). Humidity of the air had not been measured but was above 0% and nobody felt uncomfortable.
The boxes were placed on a large table (3m long, 0.75m high) with the maximal distance possible. I smelled at each box at a distance of about 0.1m above the perforated area for ten seconds, took a step (ca 0.8m) back, paused 30 seconds and tried the next box. 5 minutes between each group were used for scribbling down my presumptions and a break.
Results:
- all empty boxes had been found by me
- the mixtures AN and DN (the smell mixture, the probes were still in seperate bowls) were not distinguishable from ANFO by me
- the probes of the groups 1,3,5,6 were detected and correctly named without failure by me.

To test if the selfproduced ANFO works--and also for the fun of it, I must admit--we blowed it up after the experiment. The rest of the diesel had been used to get us a bottle of red whine (a 1998er Givre Chambertin) which served very well to the new squid recipe I invented that night (I would give you the recipe, but it's not friday, sorry).

As SNIFFEX had been shown in at least one experiment [NAVALExp] not to work and my very own nose showed in at least one experiment to work, I have shown that my nose can do better than SNIFFEX in at least the cases listed.

Ok, the experiment has a lot of technical flaws especially with the very small dataset, but that stuff _stinks_, I can tell you! Another flaw might be the citation of [NAVALExp] because I neither got a hard copy nor a weblink only the citation at James Randi's site (http://www.randi.org/jr/2007-02/021607failure.html). But the diameter of the coins had been carefully measured with 14 probes and could be shown to be correct within +0.1/-0.32mm over that dataset (experiment not repeatable: the bottle of wine was 27 EUR).

CZ

Bibliography:
[DBB] http://www.bundesbank.de/bargeld/...
[NAVALExp] 09.02.2005, U.S. Naval EOD Technology Division,
“Test Report: The Detection Capability of the SNIFFEX Handheld Explosives Detector.��?

The Facts ManMarch 8, 2007 6:50 PM

Here are some facts. Homeland has two years operating history that is audited and reported on pinksheets.com. James Randi is a magician, illusionist that has been sued repeatedly for his statements and has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending himself. He has access to a Navy report that says the product failed in a certain environment. That is absolutely true....and there is a good reason. Sniffex has also has performed well enough around the world that the company has been able to sell several hundred devices. And, as far as I know there is no other products anywhere that can detect explosives from a significant distance, in any situation, period. If you send an email to the company, they will send you a complete report of their testing at EMRTC (Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center, an extension of New Mexico Tech). Many good things in the report, and some not so good, but at least it reports the truth about the product.

The company just published a new "Information and Disclosure Statement" on pinks. Good read.

If you think this is a pump and dump, it would be gone by now.

Stocklemon.com is owned by Andrew Lelt, a known shorter of stocks. Do a google search on "andrew" "stocklemon" and you will get a feel for the credibility of the site, and, there is no question that there were shorters in the stock when their commentary was published.

The Facts ManMarch 8, 2007 8:01 PM

Here are some facts. Homeland has two years operating history that is audited and reported on pinksheets.com.

Sniffex has also performed well enough around the world that the company has been able to sell several hundred devices, even while fighting the effects of what James Randi said and what Stocklemon.com said about the company. James Randi is a former traveling magician and illusionist that has been sued repeatedly for his statements and has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending himself. He has never seen the product, never tested the product. He did get access to a Navy report that says the product failed in a certain environment. That is absolutely true....and there is a good reason.

As far as I know there is no other product anywhere in the world that can detect explosives from a significant distance, period. I have personally seen it work in totally blind situations. If you send an email to the company, they will send you a complete report of their testing at EMRTC (Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center, an extension of New Mexico Tech). Many good things in the report, and some not so good, but at least it reports the truth about the product.

The company just published a new "Information and Disclosure Statement" on pinks. Good read.

If you think this is a pump and dump, it would be gone by now.

Stocklemon.com is owned by Andrew Left, a suspected shorter of stocks. Do a google search on "andrew" "stocklemon" and you will get a feel for the credibility of his site, and, there is no question that there were shorters in the stock when their commentary was published. Andrew connected people to the company that had little, or absolutely nothing to do with anything about the company and owned not a single share. Tough to figure their motive.!?

More facts to follow......

M.Y.March 8, 2007 10:26 PM

A friend of mine tested Sniffex at a public meeting using a double blind mix of manila envelopes containing table salt with one out of ten containing 3 ounces of gun powder-- the type used for filling shotgun shells and magnum cartridges. Both the president of the company and the head of sales with two different machines were unable to detect the gunpowder in three separate trials. When they knew the location of a box containing just four lousy bullets, they could find those easily. Finally, the same bullets were added to the manila envelope containing the gunpowder and Sniffex still didn't detect it when the trial was done blind. Neither Paul Johnson (President) nor Lee White (Sales director) could explain why this was. It's all documented with photos and brief videos.

skateMarch 9, 2007 6:43 PM

My Opinion (except for the quotes of course):

“Sniffex has also performed well enough around the world that the company has been able to sell several hundred devices,��?

…and convicted fraudster Kevin Trudeau has sold millions of dollars of products. Popularity != Truth. I wouldn't brag about how many SNIFEXs have been sold as the number could be evidence of a large scale fraud rather than a vindication.

"...even while fighting the effects of what James Randi said and what Stocklemon.com said about the company. James Randi is a former traveling magician and illusionist that has been sued repeatedly for his statements and has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending himself. He has never seen the product, never tested the product."

Yes, many indignant people have tried to shut the venerable James Randi up through lawsuits. However, truth is the ultimate defense against libel and slander suits. Randi has "never paid even one dollar or even one cent to anyone who ever sued." Truth would work as a fine defense against SNIFEX, as well. I doubt that SNIFEX really wants to lose a case to James Randi.

Attempting to dismiss Mr. Randi as a mere traveling magician is to understate his performing credentials and to completely omit his decades of service in teaching critical thinking skills, investigating paranormal claims, his many articles and books and his work in forming and running the James Randi Education Foundation. Such an obvious attempt at misrepresenting Mr. Randi and his work shows that you are not arguing on the merits and are being disingenuous.

"He did get access to a Navy report that says the product failed in a certain environment. That is absolutely true....and there is a good reason."

Yes, that reason is that SNIFEX doesn't work. And that certain environment, the Yuma Proving Grounds, was a perfect place to test a product that claims it can find land mines in a battle field. Now Sniffex claims the site was contaminated by "radicals"--a problem that apparently had not occured before during the rigorous testing used to develop Sniffex. The excuses are always at hand after failure...

"As far as I know there is no other product anywhere in the world that can detect explosives from a significant distance, period."

As far as I know there is **no** product that can detect explosives at a significant distance.

"I have personally seen it work in totally blind situations."

Yes, because I should believe you rather than a thorough, well executed 2 day test by the Navy.

From the report [bracketed comments by James Randi]:
"The SNIFFEX did not detect explosives."

"The vendor never suggested that the SNIFFEXs were malfunctioning during any test despite the fact that the devices were not correctly identifying the location of explosives…

On one occasion, the vendor wondered if the building was influencing the accuracy of the device, even though their device is purported to be able to detect explosives through most any barrier. In response to this, the operator proceeded to walk around the outside perimeter of the building while twenty pounds of TNT were inside. As he walked, the SNIFFEX indicated that explosives were present within the building as evidenced by a clear antenna deflection. [Randi comments: The vendor/operator had already been informed that there was an explosive target stored somewhere within that building.] However, as he was noting the positive indication of explosives in the structure, two explosives trucks containing a total of 1,000 pounds of explosives drove up behind him to a distance of approximately twenty feet away. The SNIFFEX failed to show any indication of this much larger quantity of explosives…

Based upon the observed test results, the SNIFFEX handheld explosives detector is not capable of detecting explosives regardless of the distance between the device and any explosives…

The antenna [on the SNIFFEX] is prone to deflection from slight breezes, magnetic influences, and improper handling. Furthermore the device is extremely susceptible to a well-documented phenomenon known as the ideomotor effect…"

TBorMarch 10, 2007 8:51 PM

You know who else knows dowsing rods don't detect explosives? And predicted products like Sniffex would come back after the scams of the Quadro Tracker and the MOLE? The US Department of Justice!

Pay special notice to the section starting on page 71.
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/178913.htm

But then again, what do Sandia National Labs, The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the National Institute of Justice know about science. Clearly not as much as someone who can put together a dowsing rod made out of a telescoping antenna, a couple of magnets, and "Container 19."

Det JohnMarch 13, 2007 4:13 PM

M.Y. posted some information regarding a demo that Lee White and Paul Johnson performed that failed. I was a witness to a demo that Mr. White did in Burbank, California at the Bob Hope Airport. It was arranged for a firearm to be placed inside of a vehicle before Mr. White arrived. The Chief of Police for the airport along with a TSA employee and others went with Mr. White to the airport parking lot to see if he could find which vehicle they had placed the firearm in. He claimed that he could walk through the parking lot with the Sniffex device and determine which vehicle it was in. Mr. White scanned one side of the parking lot, about 25-30 cars worth and pointed to either one of two vehicles there may be a firearm in. They were fairly close together, so he could not determine which vehicle he was getting the signal from. Both were green pickup trucks. The Chief then directed him to scan the other side of the parking lot, which he did. On this side, there were again approximately 25-30 vehicles. After he did this, which took about 5 minutes total, he stated that the only signal he had recieved on that side was to a Hummer and that was his choice. He was indeed correct!! It surprised all of us, but there are plenty of witnesses who saw this, including the Chief of Police for Burbank Airport. His name is Ed Skvarnia. It was never determined why Mr. White said he received a signal on one of the green trucks. One of them belonged to the TSA employee, but the other was owned by no one who was present. Was there a firearm in that truck? Question unanswered, however, he did correctly determine the location of the firearm in the Hummer. He was approximately 10 feet away and simply walked past it along with the other vehicles. Is this a definitive on how well this product works? No, however, I saw the antenna turn myself when he passed the hummer. He had no way of knowing and the odds that he would pick that one individual vehicle are very low, maybe less than 5%.

M. Y.March 14, 2007 7:43 PM

To Det John: I couldn't know how Mr. White found the gun inside the Hummer because I was not there. Maybe he had an associate present who prompted him surreptitiously. Maybe he saw where the gun placed or the person who placed it through peripheral vision or maybe he was lucky that time.

There's no need to do the test that way and there's no reason to do it only once. It's simplicity itself, for example, to put a real firearm in one manila envelope (or in a small but thick cardboard carton) and identical sized toy firearms in a bunch of others, say 10-20 of them. Then you lay them out on a parking lot or inside a gym and ask him to choose the real firearm without touching the envelopes. If he succeeds once, you then shuffle the envelopes around when he is out of the room and have him do it again-- repeat three times. It is important that nobody near him know where the real firearm is lest they give it away accidentally through a gesture. In other words, the test must be "double blind" -- have everyone well away when the shuffling is done and then have the person who does it leave the area during the test. If Sniffex can perform correctly four times in succession, the odds are 1:10,000 against and he can then apply for the Randi Foundation's million dollar prize and I will personally sponsor him. Of course that will not happen.

I have another idea. Ask Mr. Johnson or Mr. White to demonstrate Sniffex inside a live mine field in a third world country. After all, that's what they claim the device is designed for.

Without a power source and looking the way it does, there is no known science which could explain how Sniffex is supposed to work.

Det JohnMarch 15, 2007 12:50 PM

M.Y., maybe Mr. White was lucky, but he did not know where the firearm was. It was placed under a seat in the Hummer before he arrived at the airport. This parking area was separate from the general parking of the airport. He could not have known as none of us did either. People have their doubts, which I understand as I did too before I saw it work. However, it worked on this occasion. Maybe luck, but to say you can do something and then put your neck out on the line and reputation of your business in front of police officers and TSA employees, he's either an idiot or there is something to the product. I've read the Navy report and I agree there are some discrepancies and they should do further testing. Anyway, my reason for posting is that I saw it work and thought I should include this information.

M. Y.March 15, 2007 2:19 PM

Hi Det John,

That's really interesting and of course there is at this point no way to explain how that happened.

What is known is that no device has ever before detected explosives unless that device had a power source. What is also known is that the explanation and the patent which purport to say how Sniffex works are both absolutely nonsense.

And no properly designed double blind experiments have demonstrated any ability whatever of Sniffex to detect explosives. I agree more should be done but you certainly don't see the company offering to have them performed.

If the device works, they should have it tested by Sandia government labs -- those folks tested the DKL Lifeguard, took it apart, and exposed that piece of deceptive junk for what it was--basically nothing. Interestingly it is *still* being sold. Search google for "sandia and dkl" (no quotes, no and) for more information on that ongoing dangerous scam.

In the meantime, tests done by the US Navy and reported on the Randi Foundation website (http://www.randi.org) include one in which the detector was unable to locate large amounts of explosive within a building and was also unable to detect a truck loaded with a HUGE amount of high explosive which went by them incidentally while they were "sniffexing" outdoors.

Sniffex is CERTAINLY nothing anyone wants to depend on for explosive detection-- do you admit that much? Or would YOU stake your life with/on it?

M. Y.March 15, 2007 2:22 PM

I might add that my friend who did the double blind test at Anaheim is considering releasing the results along with the correspondence. Basically, he told me that the company was totally unresponsive to his concerns that Sniffex could not detect anything at that meeting unless they already knew where the stuff was. They also had no reply when he offered to repeat the tests, several times, in public with the media present. I wonder why that was? BTW, he's a medical doctor trained in research who has no axe to grind whatever about the product.

det johnMarch 16, 2007 8:51 AM

M.Y.

I agree with you, they should do more tests on this product at Sandia or a credible testing facility. Sandia would be best, of course. I would not stake my life of course on the product and as I remember, Mr. White during his presentation said Sniffex was only a tool that can be used to compliment other products out there such as canines. We asked him if this could be used in an airport screening area or for passengers or baggage and he said no. He stated Vapor detectors were much more reliable. His presentation centered around this being a tool used to compliment existing products, not to replace anything. Before they can adequately market this though, they have to get certified tests. I only posted on here because I saw your friend's test that failed whereas I and others witnessed the device detect a firearm from about 10 feet away.

M.Y.March 17, 2007 2:09 PM

Well, I find Mr. White's remarks irritating and entirely self-serving.

First, an explosive detector that only works part of the time is completely useless and has no business being on the market. An unreliable detector is only going to get gullible people killed. Detecting explosives and mines is *serious* business and not for dilettantes like Sniffex.

Secondly, it is extremely simple to test their claims. Whether or not White was able to find a hidden gun on one occasion makes no difference. On many occasions, with careful scientific testing, White couldn't find explosives including once more than a ton of high explosive not ten feet from him! That's plenty enough reason to reject Sniffex.

In my opinion, Sniffex is a dowsing rod and totally, completely and deceptively useless. Not only that but explosive detectors should be regulated in the entire civilized world and subjected to the same rigorous safety testing that is now commonplace in consumer goods like automobiles and electrical appliances, to name just two of many. I suppose the only reasons this isn't the case are that the devices are too new and not many people have yet died using the bad ones.

As to Paul Johnson and Lee White, in the light of how long this obvious fraud has now gone on, either they are incredibly incompetent, unconscionably negligent or total sociopaths. I can't guess which so I guess they'd have to tell us.

M. Y.March 17, 2007 5:03 PM

Sorry, accidental exaggeration (message just above)-- it wasn't a ton of explosive ten feet away that Sniffex missed, it was a thousand pounds, twenty feet away. :-)

James RandiMarch 23, 2007 9:35 AM

The simple fact remains: Johnson and his cohorts have steadfastly refused to do the simple, double-blind test of Sniffex that would win them the million-dollar prize. Why? It would only take them an hour... And, they sued my Foundation, then dropped the suit as soon as they were ordered to answer a deposition -- which would have required them to answer questions under oath. We were required to pay huge legal fees to defend ourselves, they paid nothing...

LebaneseGuyApril 7, 2007 12:04 PM

Hello,
I live in Beirut, Lebanon, and you have no idea how successful this scam was in Lebanon. As you might know there has been a lot of terrorist attacks with explosives in the last 2 years in Lebanon, and now you find "Sniffex" devices everywhere, in the supermarkets, at all the large parking lots (including the one of the airport ), at the big hotels, the banks, you name it. The rumor is that each device was sold at $10 000, but local "engineers" claimed to have produced similar devices as effective as the original (a claim which I do not doubt) and started selling it at deeply discounted prices.

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M. Y.April 10, 2007 6:03 PM

"you have no idea how successful this scam was in Lebanon"

sadly predictable. there is so much more superstition than science in that part of the world.

M. Y.April 19, 2007 10:50 PM

Sorry about the above-- not sure if it's my lousy html or the blog software that's the problem. I will try posting an excerpt from the Dallas News article:

"The Irving marketers behind Sniffex – which looks like a cross between a large cigarette lighter and a TV antenna – say the device can pinpoint explosives from a football field away.

But in a test by the U.S. Navy, Sniffex didn't register when two trucks passed within 20 feet, hauling a half ton of explosives. The testers said the antenna was "extremely susceptible" to a phenomenon that has also been linked to Ouija boards [ideomotor effect- M.Y.]

That didn't stop another part of the Defense Department from buying eight of them – for nearly $50,000.

The military initially said it was "ripped off" but later said it was reviewing the purchase. And now, the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Sniffex Inc. for possible stock trading violations.

Sniffex also used many of the same business associates as other companies named in another SEC investigation into a Dallas-based penny stock network. The agency says in court documents that the network may have fleeced investors of millions of dollars with junk faxes and spam about multiple stocks."

Oh you can bet on that-- people got fleeced by this scam, BIG TIME.

JackalgirlApril 23, 2007 4:03 PM

Chrisoph, I love your experiment. Sure, it wasn't perfect, but you were obviously setting up a solid test with what you had. I wish more people thought like you. I'm glad you (clearly) had fun blowing stuff up. : )

For what it's worth, I filed a complaint with the Inspector General concerning HSI's press release that they'd sold SNIFFEX to the Navy after obtaining a copy of the Navy test report -- I can't post it online, unfortunately, because it's "FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY", but I do confirm that the quotations made on Mr. Randi's website are accurate and not quoted out of context. This was before the excellent Dallas News article referred to earlier on this page was published (which I then forwarded to the IG).

So far, I have a case number. The IG moves pretty slowly; it took me about two months to get that case number. But I am still tracking it, and will post any other response I get, or the response to the FOIA request I will make when the case is closed, to the James Randi Educational Foundation Forum if anyone is interested.

M.Y., I'm completely with you when you state that this device is useless and its use extremely dangerous. I characterized it as such in my complaint to the IG.

References:
HSI Press Release: http://www.homelandsafetyintl.com/investors/...
JREF Thread ("Is the U.S. Navy Really that Dumb?"): http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=75093

M. Y.May 10, 2007 10:03 AM

There is a new article at this blog (click, it's a link):

http://sniffexquestions.blogspot.com/

It describes an independent double blind test of Sniffex involving three ounces of smokeless gun powder and four 9mm cartridges. When the Sniffex users knew where the cartridges were (a steel box on their desk), they could find them easily. But when they didn't know (it could have been one of ten numbered envelopes) Sniffex could no longer find the cartridges, even when those were combined with the gunpowder. That's more explosive than one finds in landmines, an application Sniffex has irresponsibly been suggested for. It's a long read but well worth it if you're interested in this "product". It suggests that Sniffex doesn't work at all.

Agen IusMay 18, 2007 8:27 AM

Sniffex is a scam, the patent is full of bull and pseudo science. The inventor is a moron and so is ANYONE who says this piece of crap works.

I'll be my Ph.D in physics against that!!

LebaneseGuyJuly 23, 2007 1:33 PM

Hi, it's LebaneseGuy again. There has been a worrying development since my last post : In a PR video for the UNIFIL (the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon), UN soldiers are seen using a device looking exactly like an ADE-650 (which is a kind of sniffex clone) with the same method of operation. The UNIFIL has battalions coming from supposedly developed countries like Spain, France, and Italy. I don't know if they are using the device as a scarecrow (i.e to scare off terrorists who don't know it doesn't work) or if they have been duped themselves.
This is all the more worrying that the UNIFIL has been the target of several terrorist attacks recently, which resulted in the death of 6 UN soldiers.

ZodJuly 26, 2007 3:06 AM

We are trying our best to create an awareness campaign against these antenna devices in Lebanon. This is getting dangerous. There is great terrorist threats and no proper protection. We have informed the Syndicate of Security and Safety and yet no action has been undertaken... At some point I wonder whether we are the only security company in Lebanon with a conscience.

ZodJuly 26, 2007 3:13 AM

The NIJ (the US National Institute for Justice) has conducted a report of more than a 100 pages on explosive detectors with only 2 pages regarding the antenna devices entitled: "Warning: do not buy bogus explosives detection equipment"

download the .pdf files from http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/178913.htm “dowsing rods��? that’s what they are referred to; I quote the below:

“Suspect any device that uses a swinging rod that is held nearly level, pivots freely and “indicates��? the material being sought by pointing at it."

read pages 71 and 72 if you still have any doubts...

MrJimSeptember 6, 2007 10:47 PM

Dear All (above). Those of you who know, will know who I am. I'm the guy who marketed the ADE 650 (in he beginning) and in particualar with several departments in the Middle East (as well as elsewhere). You all have valid comments and concerns but despite all these (and in particular I am referring to the 'negative' dialogue) there are still, several Companies manufacturing and promoting their version of these "be aware of....swinging-antenna detectors". As a manufacturer myself, I too became skeptical of 'certain' other-manufactures equipments and therefore, made a point of testing them myself. To my surprise, they ALL actually work but, there are some serious concerns as to how they work and why it is that they 'appear' to work for some people, and not for others. Well, I am pleased to say that I now know the reasons. Unfortunately, there is not sufficient time, or space, to explain why such systems come under continued criticism but, from what I have observed, there are valid and explainable differences between the eqipmments offered. Government and Independent 'testing-authorities' have done evaluations on some of these but, sadly, the testing methods they have used and applied to these type of equipments, will NOT work under the conditions they have applied. For example, a "double-blind" test is OK in principal but, in practice, it will fail such devices in nearly all cases.....why? well again, I haven't the time or space to fully explain but having done my own independent tests, they will not function correctly under that current 'test-method'. So, how does it work then? (I hear you all cry out), well, if I told you that, I'd be shooting myself in the foot (so to speak) and open up a whole new avenue for our Chinese friends to copy and produce their own variant. So, at this time, I will not let the 'cat' out of the bag too much....(rest-easy you 'other manufacturers')...and will instead, carry-on improving my own version with the continued success it has been awarded. One thing I would say though is; it does require training and unless you can provide the very best support for the product you will, sadly, have continued debates and "Expert" advice from those 'reputed scientists, (and the like), categorically refuting any possibility that any of these 'gadgets' can actually work. OK, you may say that this is another attempt to 'pull the wool over evryones eyes' but like every new concept, there's a period (sometimes long-period) where there is always an "Expert" who knows best and I do not doubt that they have their valid point and opinion but, instead of trying to refute this technology, (and that is what it is, it's not 'mumbo-jimbo'), why don't you offer your assistance? Why?, well could it have anything to do with the 'Big Manufacturers' of Vapor Tracer Technology products putting pressure on their respective Govenments to stop the 'little-guys' gaining any ground on 'their-turf'?....hummmm..............Anyway, and as a final comment: Don't 'knockabout' what you don't know about.....take the time to learn....afterall, why is it that there are 100's, (if not possibly combined, 1000's), of very happy users out there?
A renown French scientist; Prof. Edmund Locard; a 'pioneer' of forensic science, died in 1966 and was considered by some as a 'Quack', but was recognised for his efforts into what we now know as "DNA" which, until the early 1980's was a 'technology' that could not "possibly work"...........as the Eminent philosopher Confucius would say; "Man who goes to bed with sex on mind......will wake up with solution in-hand"........without a doubt, this debate will go on........

MrJimSeptember 27, 2007 11:32 AM

As a follow-up to the above comment, I noticed a response on another website from someone calling themselves "Biff Starbuck". Well Biff, I'm not registered with the Randi Org and have little intention in doing so as it would appear (from your pseudonym) that you all maybe taking in too much caffeine!
It is exactly what I would have expected by people like yourself who have been convinced that all of these ‘reports’ are set firmly in ‘stone’. I don’t claim to have all of the answers and I certainly do not agree with all of the reports but, as mentioned, there are logical reasons as to why these ‘Tests’ did not work out…….unfortunately, your comments give one the impression that I am trying to Warn you against the Chinese when in fact, the text in which was meant was in relation to the Chinese’s renown ability to ‘copy’ other manufacturers equipment.
I will not support nor condone what may, or may not, have happen in the 1990’s with respect to Quattro but I stand by my comment that, I have tested ALL of these products and they ALL work………however, most of them have serious flaws in either their design, function or operational use and I am a firm believer in the fact that most of the ‘scientific’ fraternity associated with your ‘blog’, also know, very well, the reasons for their failure. Hence why I comment about their ulterior motive…….again, for sure, the dialogue will continue…….Biff, don’t be like the others, take time to find out….be a leader, not a follower….Ask yourself, if these were 'supposed frauds', why are companies still out there being allowed to market and sell these products......why? Well, in my opinion, it is because they have been unable to catagorically refute them NOT working either!
Again......this dialogue will continue.......

M YSeptember 29, 2007 10:53 AM

Hi MrJim,

A double blind test is where the ability of the explosive detector to find explosives is tested. The only unique feature of double blind testing is that neither the person scoring the test nor the person running the machine know where the explosive is.

To perform the test, the explosive is hidden in a container and a number of dummy (technically called "control") containers which look exactly the same but have some inert material in them (like table salt for example) are also placed in the test area. The detector has to distinguish between the real explosive and the dummy containers to pass the test. Some "hits" will happen by chance alone. For example if there are ten containers, nine are dummies and one has the explosive, the detector will find the explosive one out of ten times by chance alone.

Although you can use statistics, nothing complicated is really needed for a "screening test" to tell if the detector is any good. Sniffex failed to detect explosives in three of these double blinds tests (see the Anaheim test blog at http://sniffextest.blogspot.com/ ). First, that's excellent evidence, virtually iron-clad proof that Sniffex doesn't detect explosives. Second, would you trust your life (for example in mine detection) to a detector that works rarely? Occasionally?

You said: "a "double-blind" test is OK in principal [sic] but, in practice, it will fail such devices in nearly all cases.....why? "

Why indeed? Real life explosive detection *is* a double blind test. Fail it and you die. Are you really as dense as you seem? What about this is it that you do not understand? It's not rocket science. Either a detector detects or it doesn't. It's not hard to determine which it is if you use double blind (or even single blind) testing so that your mind and the "ideomotor" effect (look it up in google) won't fool you.

If you believe these wand type dowsing rod detectors work with explosives, I have a real life test for you to run. Please use one to detect and remove mines in one of the many horrible landmine fields that exist in this world. Find a dozen or so mines, defuse them, make a video and then come back here and we'll talk. Otherwise, you need to realize that what you wrote makes no sense whatsoever.

Mr. JimOctober 26, 2007 1:34 AM

Dear M Y, and Mr Lumpy and everyone else involved in these 'blogs'......as I commented before, this debate will continue....and maybe for a long time to come. I must apologise for not writting sooner but, fortunately or unfortunately, I have a business to run and this still invoolves my equipment. However, I will, (in my "dense" nature) attempt to explain some of the comments I have noticed.
1. I know very well what a 'double-blind-test' is but, the principal applied to this test, (and this is in particular to the tests that have been done on both the "Mole Programmable System" as well as the SNIFFEX) is that 4 or 6 'cardboard' boxes were used causing a micro-contamination of such boese for a short period of time....I need not elaborate further as you are bound to ridicule this comment to suit.
2. LIVE landmines (to be more accurate, 'cluster bombs') were detected using my equipment, in the Southern part of Lebanon. These were also defused and this has been documented.....again, I need not say any more on this except to say, Yes, it does work!
3. Lumpy asked why I don't explain how it works and as I have commented before, it is not something I know nothing about, it is something I know extreemly well and it is not that I do not know why it doesn'y work for some people, I know very well why and in fact, the reason it does not work (apparently) for some people is down to the training given on the equipment.
You all seem to be convinced that this is being sold as some form of new 'rocket-science'....it's not...it's not rocket science at all and although opens comments like: 'its a hoax, rubbish, etc; etc;' you have to see it in a real-case scenario......all thse tests are well and good but speak with those entities that have, and use, the equipment on a daily bases. Don't listen to me, ridicule me if you like, but I a confident in what I have works....however, I will emphasis, IT DOES NEED TRAINING....and once you are trained, you will understand the principals of why, and how, it works.
Finally.....several have commented on 'how can it possibly work without power', well it can't...but this is because 'there is POWER' and that come from the individual in the form of 'static-electricity' and all of these equipments rely on the amount of 'static' delivered to it.....sounds simple? well thats because it is.....but the intellectual principal is something I will not discuss....and not because I don't know, but because this is not for public release.......yet.
You all will know where my website is and therefore you are free to address me directly with your comments.....as I have said before, I am sure this debate will continue but let me apologise in advance if I cannot reply to you 'blog-comments' as soon as you would like...

M YNovember 21, 2007 12:01 PM

Hi again, Mr. Jim.

If you use Sniffex to look for landmines, please post a video. I'd love to see it. And you say "you all will know where my web site is". No we don't. Where is it please?

M. Y.September 8, 2008 11:01 AM

Mr. Jim will not submit his equipment for a test. He has an idiotic Youtube video at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyMP5dBSa2c

Responses to this video are censored. Mr. Jim will NOT allow double blind testing. Personally, I hope he tries out his own non-working fraudulent dowsing rod in a live minefield. That would settle the issue once and for all.

Incidentally, Sniffex and Homeland Safety International are out of business. The lawyer who set up the company copped a plea. The president and other principal founders of the company are under indictment by the SEC with assistance from the FBI. The stock has no residual value.

Here's the wiki about Sniffex:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sniffex

Here's the official government complaint (PDF format):

http://www.sec.gov/litigation/complaints/2008/...

And the SEC action against the lawyer and complaint against the company and its officers and owners:

http://www.sec.gov/litigation/litreleases/2008/...

More information:
http://sniffextest.blogspot.com/
http://sniffexquestions.blogspot.com/

TechowizNovember 11, 2008 5:31 AM

Many thanks to M.Y. for keeping this thread moving. We in the UK are actively pushing for the equipment sold by, ATSC, website:
http://www.atscltd.com/
namely the ade651, and equipment sold by, Global Technical, website:
http://www.globaltechnical.co.uk/index.asp
namely, the GT200
to be banned. The equipment sold by these two companies, clearly cannot work as stated. We have qestioned the owner of ATSC, Jim McCormick, to produce evidence from experts to prove his equipment works, so far he has failed to respond. McCormick does try to defend his equipment on other blogs, but any questions are heavily moderated and very few actually get posted.
The owner of Global Technical, Gary Bolton at least has the sense not to try and defend his equipment.
The more postings and comment that are made about this scam equipment the more people will see it, and hopefully those buyers that are taken in by this fraud will reconsider.
Remember, its not the sellers lives that are put at risk by this scam.

ScamhunterNovember 13, 2008 2:32 PM

It would appear that some bloggers have ATSC on the run. Mr Jim has taken himself out of the blogs and is ignoring all the negative publicity.
Unless he is trying to find someone to say something good about the ade.

TechowizNovember 27, 2008 5:10 AM

It seems we have a difference of opinion, On 'Mr Jims' website, he describes the working principle of the ADE as:-

electrostatic ion attraction

But on his authorised distributors website, Prosec (Lebanon), it is described as:-

'The working principal is based on electrochemical (Thermo-Redox) detection'.

I have challenged Mr Jim about this but not surprisingly he has so far not iven an explanation. Whonder why.............

TechowizDecember 3, 2008 10:35 AM

The pressure is mounting and the scammers are panicking. Gary Bolton of Global Technical Ltd (UK) formerly of the MOLE, and I'm sure you all remember how that performed at Sandia Labs, has threatened, 'Legal Action' agaisnt one of our supporters for his criticism of the GT200 (MOLE).
He has threatened to sue for Libel. Now that should be a fun day in court, love to see him prove his scam device works as stated.

LonjhoMarch 8, 2009 7:02 PM

Since last year, mexican military and a couple of police departments in the country, are using the GT200 device to "detect" drugs and worse, to search and to clear areas for explosives!

I found this information recently and I wrote a little about on my blog (in spanish):

http://tinyurl.com/bkdazk

According to press notes and an interview each device was bought in 35,000 - 48,000 US dollars. Sedena (Mexican Defence Ministry) bought at least 270 or 300 units. Do the math.

It's so embarrasing...

Retired law in IraqMarch 17, 2009 2:21 AM

Wow, they are using this in Iraq for bomb detection. If I knew someone that was injured over this voodoo science machine. I would have the owner's/proprietors heads on a punji stick.

TechowizMarch 31, 2009 4:34 PM

Lonjho,
It is a national disgrace that this scam equipment has been bought by the Mexican authorities. Sadly I cannot read Spanish but can you give me the address of your blog and I will have it translated and link to our blogs here in the UK.
Retired Law,
We are aware of the ADE 650/651 presence in Iraq are there any other fake explosive detectors being used to your knowledge.
regards

TechowizNovember 6, 2009 8:09 AM

The New York Times has published an article saying what we have all been saying for years, that the ADE651 is a total scam, the link is as follows:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/04/world/...
Whilst it mentions the Iraqi Police and Army, it does not mention that the Lebanese Army also bought into this scam.
I bet the Israelis are still laughing to this day, but perhaps not as much as Mr Jim.
regards

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