Quadro Crime Tracker

In 1993, The Quadro Corporation, based in Harleyville, South Carolina, started marketing the Quadro Tracker, a high-tech device which could (depending on which model was bought), find lost golf balls, illegal narcotics, weapons and explosives, or missing persons.

To use the machine, you fed in a “carbocrystalized signature card” which had been tuned to the “identical frequency modulation” as the object you were searching for. The Quadro Corporation explains the theory behind the devices:

[A]ll matter contains exact molecular frequencies. When a magnetic field is created by a contained electrically charged body moving through space at a perpendicular angle moving to its direction, and that field is brought into alignment with another exact field, resonating at the identical frequency modulation, then both objects attract, just as two bodies are attracted toward each other in a gravitational field.

The Quadro QRS 250G, consisted of an empty plastic box, an antenna, and a place to put the “signature cards.” James Randi describes how these cards were prepared:

To prepare a “carbocrystalized signature card” tuned to cocaine, the white-gloved [Quadro founder Wade] Quattlebaum took a Polaroid photo of the substance. That photo was then taken to what appeared, to the uninitiated person, to be a Canon copier. In actuality, explained Quattlebaum, this was an “electromagnetic frequency transfer unit.” Science marches on. An enlarged photocopy of the Polaroid photo was made, which “extracted the molecular structure and its subsequent frequency emission from the photo.” That piece of paper was then cut into tiny squares, one of which was inserted into the plastic “signature card” chip. Et le voila!

Quadro Corp. sold these things to, among others, law enforcement agencies and school districts, for as much as (U.S.) $8,000.

They were assisted by an assistant U.S. Attorney from Houston who bought into the scheme, paid $13,600 for distribution rights in four states, and then used his office to promote the devices. He’s the only one to have gotten nailed for the scam so far (he resigned and paid a $5,000 fine); although the company was shut down by court injunction in 1996, the three Quadro employees charged with mail fraud were acquitted by a jury in early 1997.

The prosecutor in that case, baffled to be on the losing side, tried to explain: “We felt that we proved that this was a worthless device,” he said, but “in fraud you have to prove intent, and perhaps they did not see clear intent to defraud.”

It is unknown how many search warrants were issued or gym lockers searched based on findings of the Quadro Tracker.

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On This Day in SniggleryJune 25, 2001: Michael Kinsley, editor of Slate, finally admits that the magazine’s report on the bizarre sport of monkey fishing was “willful inaccuracy.” (See News Trolls for more info)