Tag Archives: scam

Konkurssi raukeaa – Ei se mitään, SpaceNation jatkaa USA:ssa

Avaruuskonkurssiyhtiöstä Space Nation aka Cohu Experience Oy tuli viime kuussa kaksi ilmoitusta. Ensin Privanet kertoi, että konkurssi raukeaa, koska varoja ei riitä edes konkurssimenettelyyn. Tämä ei ole yllätys, yhtiöllä ei koskaan ollut substanssia. Vain heikko bisnesidea ja medianäkyvyyttä.

 

Sitten yhtiö ilmoitti, että sen toiminta jatkaa Yhdysvalloissa. Space Nation olisi rekisteröity uutena firmana. Siitä kertoi sen johtohahmo, islantilainen PR-mies Hjörtur Smárason, joka nimellä PolarExpress myös laittanut Wikipediaan firmaa kehuvan artikkelin.

Outo seikka: “Uusi firma” käyttää entisen suomalaisyhtiön nettisivua, niin kuin se kuuluisi sille. Itse asiassa tämä pitäisi olla osa konkurssipesää, ja on todennäköisesti entisen yhtiön ainoa omaisuus, jolla on vielä jonkinlaista arvoa. Se on edelleen rekisteröity Helsinkiin, Cohu/Space Nationin kotiosoitteeseen.

Yritin löytää “uusi Space Nation” USA:n osavaltioiden kaupparekistereistä, jopa SEC:n listoilta. Tuloksetta. Ei ole varmuutta siis, puhuuko tämä mainosmies totta. Toisesta asiasta olen varma: Heidän astronauttivalepuvuissa ihan jokainen näyttää idiotilta hassulta.

UK Health Department slams magnesium sellers for trademark infringement

To my surprise, I received a call from the UK Department of Health and Social Care last week. They wished to thank me for notifying the department about the “NHS” trademark infringement by Nordic Health Sprays aka Pohjoismaiden Terveyssuihkeet Oy. I had nearly forgotten that I copied a text and, as required, my phone number into a government contact formular some weeks ago.

The NHS logo must be used in support of its “core principles and values”. The UK National Health System is a very trusted brand, which stands for (examples) “quality of care, …safety, confidentiality, professional and managerial integrity, accountability” and so on.

Selling questionable supplements and magnesium sprays does obviously conflict with these values. The finnish company received a cease-and-desist order, and acted immediately to avoid compensation claims. It has not filed balances since 2016; a 5-digit claim could pose a real threat.

Its website misused several brands. Before…

…and after.

 

The original manufacturer of the magnesium products distributed by Nordic Health Sprays, BetterYou Ltd from the UK, also had to remove the NHS logo. Visitors would get the impression, that the NHS somehow stands behind the “Backed by Science” line.

 

 

Other institutional logos are still there, to milk some confidence for the flimsy magnesium health claims. Supplements and other OTC “health products” are typically marketed with such illegal or unethical methods.

I would never try to take them on systematically, because it’s a complete waste of time. One busted lie is soon replaced by another. That was just a demonstration and the result of a 5 minutes effort.

HumanCharger-Valkee’s balance 2019: Guess what?

Finnish Valkee Ltd, maker of the questionable HumanCharger earlight device, has just filed its 2018-2019 balance. It’s the same as every year: Overwhelming loss and now again a sharp drop in revenue.

And as every year, earlightswindle.com makes it available.

Valkee balance 2/2019 (valkee2019.pdf)

Turnover has fallen by 34%, thus eliminating last years somewhat surprising rise. It’s now 637.000€, i.e. even less than in 2016/17. The effect of the US launch seems to level out. Good news for them: Loss is down to 594.000 Euro. But this means, that still every Euro turnover results in one Euro loss – as last year.

HR costs are down from 411.000 to 268.000€, and with (only) 226.000€ paid out, the question is who’s still employed by this company – besides its CEO and some salespersons.

Valkee is struggling to survive, as it did since 2007 – and now it became clear, how the project is “scaling”. It will exist as long as its investors are willing to pay. The plug may be pulled sooner or later.

That’s an enduring embarassment also for Interbrand, which really messed up by calling HumanCharger a “breakthrough brand” in 2017. The only thing that will break here will be the investors’ patience.

Over & out, as I leave this rather boring news piece to the snail media, Kauppalehti, HelsinginSanomat or whatever, for those laties who have not cancelled subscriptions yet.

Update 13.7.2019: Kauppalehti did as expected and translated this into finnish as “news”. Always welcome on my blog.

Transdermal Magnesium, Fake Studies, and a Family Business

When I wrote in 2017 about Finland’s leading pharmacy chain intentionally selling magnesium spray snake oil to its customers, I wasn’t aware of the scale of the transdermal magnesium scam.  There are hundreds of manufacturers and sellers, and there are dozens of such products on sale in finnish pharmacies.

One company caught my eye: Nordic Health, which maintains websites for all nordic countries. It has “Magnesium Sleep lotion for mothers and babies“, “Magnesium butter“, and 17 (!) other transdermal magnesium products. The tagline: “Scientifically proven“.

 

According to Nordic Health, its magnesium is effectively absorbed through the skin. If true, that would be strikingly different from all other transdermal magnesium preparations. The company presents studies to bolster its claims (click to open).

 

  • #1 looks like an incomplete citation of a real, published scientific study.
  • #2-#6 are sponsored, unpublished statements about different products (Magnesium, vitamins) allegedly done by an university. Obviously it’s nothing about these specific Nordic Health formulations.
  • #7 and #8 are unrelated studies about inflammatory bowel disease (!) in eastern Europe.
  • #9-#12 are mainly unidentifiable, unpublished sponsored statements.
    I managed to find #11 online; it’s an uncontrolled questionnare test (“did you sleep better with this product?”)

 

To make it short: This is no scientific proof, this is not even science. And it’s accompanied with logos of universities and the NHS. I bet Nordic Health hasn’t any right to use the NHS’s mark to pump up sales.

Nordic Health Sprays tells it’s a finnish family business. …but what kind of family?

NordicHealthSprays Family Business

 

But wait, there was a real study at the beginning, right? The incorrect citation was

  • Watkins, K., Josling PD. 2010. A Pilot Study to determine the impact of Transdermal Magnesium treatment on serum levels and whole body CaMg Ratios. European Journal For Nutraceutical Research.

 

Fake Journal, Fake Study – Good Product?

This study is widely quoted and reproduced on webshops which sell transdermal magnesium. Get it, for example, from the “Magnesium Health Institute” (PDF). It is even cited in papers in (allegedly peer-reviewed) scientific journals. Although it’s not found as an original paper in any citation database.

It is not in PubMed/MedLine, and no-one seems to know the “European Journal for Nutraceutical Research“. I’ve done a lot of research into predatory journals (soon to be published), but this one baffled me. The journal is not in the NLM catalog, meaning it has not even existed at any point in time. There’s no trace whatsoever currently on the net. Nonetheless, it’s widely used and cited by shady and half-shady businesses – like extempore, the customer magazine of the finnish pharmacists’ association.

 

Finally, I identified the “journal” through the always-appreciated internet archive. The “European Journal for Nutraceutical Research” has been a sub-blog on the defunct phytomedcentral.org website. It had less than five entries and was accompanied by other fakes, like Plant Taxonomy Journal, Plant Anti Cancer Journal, Veterinary Plant Medicine Journal, and Pharmaceutical Plant Research Journal. These were all used to push questionable supplements or “herbal remedies” by junk studies disguised as scientific journal articles.

It’s in a way a copycat of Andrea Rossi‘s method to publish his cold fusion junk papers in his “Journal of Nuclear Physics“, which is in fact only his blog.

What if I’d call my gloom blog Journal of Scientific Innovation?
(All these names are already used by scammers.)

If it wouldn’t be so symptomatic, it would be funny. The source is long gone, but the misinformation lives on. I won’t go into details of the study, the strange titles of the authors and the obscure “Herbal Research Center” where it was done.

And this is the best existing evidence for transdermal magnesium?

It is, according to this review of transdermal magnesium, which was also published through a controversial publisher. Generally, at the moment only sub-standard stuff like this exists.

 

***

ps. the address, where “Nordic Health Sprays” (Pohjoismaiden Terveyssuihkeet Oy) claims to reside, is a family home on sale:

 

Dr. Klopp dies, and BEMER confirms his “institute” had been virtual

Dr. Rainer Klopp, inventor of the BEMER method, has died. On Monday, May 6th, a sudden peak in blog visitor numbers indicated something has happened, and soon there were the first obituaries on Facebook and elsewhere.

One of these can be read on IMIN-org.eu, the website of the “International Microvascular Net”. Despite its name and self-description, it has nothing to do with microcirculation or vascular research or other scientific activities. It’s a BEMER International front-end, led by outsider physicians, fake doctors, homeopaths and crackpots (more on this on request, probably it’s self-evident to readers).

The obituary has a fine detail. It tells about Klopp’s “only recently completed Institute for Microcirculation“.

That’s clear and no misunderstanding. They, if anyone, know the truth. And that I was correct with my findings about the phantom institute. Hostile comments do not change the facts.

***

ps. Dr. Klopp is gone, but his genius lives on!

– Now in BEMERwater. I can assure everyone, it is as effective as BEMER therapy.

Social Media: “HumanCharger” is comedy gold

The Sunday Times (UK) just had an absolutely awful piece on “biohackers”, and it seems that readers have a clear favourite which one is the most ridiculous “biohack” of all.

HumanCharger is trending on Twitter at this moment, and it’s not quite the way the scammers dream of.

Some years ago, one of Finland’s leading newspapers asked its readers, which is the worst product failure ever in this country. The HumanCharger won that poll unanimously. The public reaction seems now to be the same whatever whenever.

But once upon a time, things were different, when I started the earlightswindle.com-website. It is fairly outdated, but gives a good picture of the situation then, when the media hyped the Valkee device – now renamed “HumanCharger – and there were few critical voices as mine. I’m sort of proud still, for having steered the mainstream here./-ed.

Space Nation comes full circle (updated)

“Space Nation konkurssi” Google suosittelee, kun etsii firmaa sieltä. Tuore tilinpäätös puhuu samaa kieltä.

As promised – here is the 5/2018 balance of “space tourism company” Space Nation Oy (formerly Cohu Experience Ltd) from Helsinki, Finland.

SpaceNation balance 2018 (PDF)

Initial sales from the Space Nation Navigator game app were negligible: Revenue was 4006€ (I predicted 4000). The overall result is a 2,9M€ loss (my prognosis 4-6M).

Of the 5,2 million given by crowdfunders and other private investors last year, 58.000 was left in May 2018. That is probably burned yet, also. The company owed 1,2M to banks and addtional 952K to suppliers. In the books are mainly immaterial rights and contracts – such as the (non-commercial) Space Act Agreement with NASA. No substance.

Now that’s clearly a serious situation, which explains the abrupt stopping of the “Astronaut Training program” in August. The app’s downloads have come to a standstill by October. It’s not far-fetched to expect the app disappear from the Google Play Store and Apple Store within 12 months, as it happened to Cohu Experience’s first app, CarbonToSoil.

In time for Slush 2018, Space Nation seems to come full circle where it started two years ago.

____________________________________________________

UPDATE 19.11.2018:

After diving to €0,80 [ask], Space Nation shares were suspended “until further notice” from Privanet’s stock bazaar. The trade register – neither the company nor Privanet – informs about the probable reason.

Space Nation has issued new shares, possibly to pay expenses, at least 15 times since December 2017. These were now registered on Nov 15. Further diluting previous investors’ shares by 205.000, it brings the overall count to 1.708.793. Thus the theoretical valuation would now be well below €1,4M, but as no deals were registered in the last 2 months, it’s surely closer to zero than a million. Last year, Space Nation had predicted it to be one billion by now.

Space Nation Oy (Ltd), formerly Cohu Experience, has now announced to file for bancruptcy. It managed to burn multi-million investments in less than 2 years.

Valkee: Turnover up 50% – 1 million loss as usual (update)

Korvavalofirman tilinpäätös 2/2018 loppuneelta tilikaudelta tuli julki. Liikevaihdon odotettu 50% kasvu toteutui, summa on lähes sama kuin 2013/2014. Henkilöstömäärä laski kuuteen. Tasesumma puolittui. Tappio on silti saman verran kuin viime vuonna, yli miljoonaa. Firman kulut olivat edelleen €1,10 jokaista liikevaihtoeuroa kohden.

Kokonaistappio on siis virallisesti ylittänyt 10M€-rajan. Viime vuosien huimat pääomalainat, jotka pitivät firmaa juuri ja juuri elossa, on tilinpäätösasiakirjoissa s.8 ja 9. Suurin ongelma lienee se, että uudet laitteet pitäisi valmistaa tuoreella rahalla. Tällä hetkellä myynti on nolla. Tilintarkastaja arvioi että Valkee tarvitsee pääomalainojen lisäksi uutta rahoitusta jatkaakseen toimintansa.

Valkee Balance 2018 (PDF)

The finnish earlight manufacturer Valkee Ltd has grown sales of its HumanCharger device again by 50%. With only 6 employees (peaked at 21 in 2014), the company made still roughly the same loss as last year, over €1 million. It survived until now on capital shot in by previous investors as convertible loans, amounting to 2-3 million in 2 years. Ernst&Young’s accountants suspect, that Valkee won’t exist through the present fiscal year, unless it gets substantial funding in addition to such loans.

Valkee has given up on Finland, where the HumanCharger is considered a national embarrassment. Sales to US “biohackers” susceptible to all kinds of such scams and supplements go well, especially since earlightswindle.com was unlawfully removed from Google’s index* and there’s no independent information available. (I’ll do nothing about that until the content on the classic site is updated.)

Still, all independent research to date has demonstrated that the fake “light therapy” through the ear canal has only a placebo effect. The company’s budget does not allow for new marketing “research”, and it seems no evidence is needed to ensure international sales.

 

*the important static site with all the key information about the Valkee case (under earlightswindle.com/index.htm and else) was removed, while the blog is still visible.  It looks like the content URLs were removed manually.

UPDATE 21.9.2018:
earlightswindle.com is back in the Google index. It wasn’t me!

Valkee Humancharger shutdown – temporary or final?

This blog – as the previous earlightswindle.com – was once reporting exclusively about the multifaceted scamming activities of finnish company Valkee Ltd, maker of the fake “light therapy device” HumanCharger.

Now it seems they are finally phasing out of business. The company is technically bankrupt since March 2017, but now

The finnish trade register says, that in May 2018 the main shareholders LifeLine Ventures, Vera and Merieux forgave the company another 230.000€ convertible loan; i.e. was converted into worthless shares. The same happened to several other such loans during the last two years, rising the amount of burnt money to more than 10 million Euro.

The next months will now be decisive. I am looking forward and will inform as always.

A BEMER representative answers

A BEMER rep from the US has answered to my investigative piece about the mysterious “Institute for Microcirculation”. Leaving a VIP.bemergroup link, she used 3 popular deception techniques: The straw man attack, a conspiracy theory, and fogging (aka Chewbacca defense).

If not self-evident, read my comments below. Markers added. There’s also some historic background related to East Germany which may be totally unknown to american readers, at least.

According to this bio I found online–Dr Klopp is currently 75 years old, which may be why he is difficult to track currently. I don’t believe there was ever a BEMER institute of Microcirculation-it is not recorded in the history of BEMER international AG, Liechtenstein-but rather Dr Klopp pioneered research in microcirulation and BEMER contacted them for evaluation of their product(s). Dr Klopp was a physician and professor at Humbolt University in Berlin (Charite) holding director and teaching positions of both undergraduates in physics and biophysics, and as a senior physician of the Institute of Cardiovascular Diagnostics and researcher in the medical school. He founded a research institute of microcirculation while at Charite in 1991 and was awarded research monies from the German government as well as other sources.

Dr. Klopp is well published in Europe.

Average of retirement in Germany is 62 to 65 years old. In 1991, the year his separate institute for microcirculation studies was formed on the campus of Charite, Dr Klopp was 48 yeas old–he is now 75 years old. Dr Klopp worked with the founder of BEMER Intl AG Peter Gleim to study and understand the original BEMER wave signal and provided validation of their product’s impact on the capillary and micro capillary system in the human body . BEMER did not own his Institute of Microcirculation which he founded at Charite University medical center. In the review of published research on pubmed.gov where he is listed as an author over the past 11 years there is no mention of the research being conducted at the Institute of Microcirculation–indicating that it is probably not an active research facility, hence you would not find it on the campus. This is not really a validating factor that it did not exist, and even here in the USA physicians, professors and clinical researchers are often referred to by the last position they held before retirement. They are often consultants that can still be involved in ongoing research.

While I appreciate your investigation of the campus attempting to locate the Institute of Microcirculation, a further investigation of an actual interview with Dr Klopp himself, review of current research on BEMER wave signal–such as the USA Dept of Defense research on wound healing presented at the IMIN conference in Florida in Sept 2016, research of the history of the formation of the institution of its original charter, financial contracts, employees, etc which are records of the state university – Humbolt University(Charite) and the government records of Germany would be much more informative of the actual work of Dr Klopp and his founding of the Institute of Microcirculation–rather than chasing addresses and drawing conclusions from that.

In the USA many foundations, non-profits etc are formed specifically to financially support the research of work of physicians, clinical researchers etc These entities have university addresses that are fluid and are often decided upon committees of the university and have no real bearing on exactly where research is conducted. As a quick perusal I just did an internet research for a well respected deceased physician researcher–former Assoc Dean of Medicine for Stanford Univ School of Medicine and Head of multiple departments at Stanford, who was recruited to Harvard University with a significantly higher research dollar budget–neither of his research centers laboratories are even named in his bio–yet they took in 100’s of millions of dollars in funding. There is no current record of their addresses that you would find if you tried to locate them in the manner of which you did your research on an institute of microcirculation associated with Dr Klopp, and a never in existence “BEMER” institute of microcirculation.

I would also recommend a search of who owns the English website of Institute of Microcirculation should be investigated(where you obtained a current address from)–the style of English content does not appear to be written by Dr Klopp himself as it does not match his other writings I have read–English translations originally written in German.

I am a skeptic, open skeptic, with a history of university and hospital administration, USA Natl Institute of Health clinical studies site coordinator, and have supported clinical research at Univ of Calif San Francisco and Stanford Univ. I also have experience as a research analyst for high tech and biotech startups and expansions being evaluated for venture capital and other sources of funding. I recently traveled to Liechtenstein to BEMER Intl AG headquarters and met much of their staff as well as members of the founding Gleim family. I also before going to visit their headquarters, I read ( having had translated for me by a native German speaker and research scientist) 10 peer reviewed studies on the BEMER wave signal, as well as video conference attended the most recent IMIN conference 2016 in Florida, and have read some of the transcripts on current research and case histories presented by physicians at a conference of approximately 400 medical doctors at a medical research conference on BEMER wave signal in Europe fall 2017.

After thorough research, and personal testing of the BEMER Pro device, I decided to become a BEMER independent distributor. I do not speak on behalf of the company, but from my own personal point of view.

I never looked for a non-existing “BEMER institute”. My text stated clearly that I searched for the “Institute for Microcirculation”, which BEMER Group links with high visibility directly from its homepage (falsely listed as “University”/removed 7/2019):

“BEMER” is the name of the method. It’s the same as calling an institute known for yoga yoga institute or an institute that developed SEMTEX the Semtex institute. Note the quotation marks. This is an classic example of a straw man fallacy: Constructing a fault which isn’t there to “disprove” it.

I found it always fascinating, how proponents of “Alternative medicine” are refusing to acknowledge obvious facts, and rather create or maintain conspiracy theories. An impressive example can be seen above: The flimsy website of the fake institute is too shameful for the glorious BEMER group propaganda, so it must be owned by some sinister force.

The WHOIS service is now heavily redacted – thanks to GDPR-, but the rest of the entry for Klopp’s “institute” still shows his name.

Searching for the “institute” on Google meanwhile brings up Klopp’s apartment as its location – just as I found out on the spot.

 

The rest of the comment contains mainly irrelevant listing of great but unrelated things, names, money, institutions and titles, meant to distract from the bizarre reality.

***

The whole comment is of a quality that demands a reframing. The following may not be easy to understand for westeners or the younger generation. However, things were as they were.

In the 1990s, I studied medicine at the Charité/Humboldt University in Berlin. I’m from East Germany, just like Dr. Klopp. We lived in the so-called German Democratic Republic (GDR) for longer than we did in unified Germany (in my case, because I’m in self-imposed exile since the 2000s). In 1992/93 I worked less than 200 metres away from were the “Institute for Microcirculation” claims to have been. My father is from the very same area in the North-East of Berlin, and I know places, people and conditions since my childhood. Hence my motivation to check this out – I found it interesting and knew it’s feasible.

In the GDR, high positions in university departments were not for the outstanding scientists. Professors’ posts were for the politically extremely reliable, hardened communist party members. Even a staff physicist as Angela Merkel had to deliver in marxist-leninist theory to gain a postdoc position. Often department leaders had close ties to the Ministry for State Security (>>Stasi) and typically were party members.

When it all fell apart in 1989-1991, as the communist regimes collapsed, professors and deans found themselves on catapult seats. Plenty got fired for “Staatsnähe” or Stasi contacts. The most prominent case in Berlin was the rector of the Humboldt University, Heinrich Fink, for being a long-time Stasi agent. Leading MDs had boosted their career with misconduct, even with criminal activities. (Suggested reading: >>”Es geht um unsere Ehre”, Der Spiegel 35/1991.)

The Institute for Cardiovascular Diagnostics at the Charité, where Klopp claims to have had a senior position (Oberarzt) as well at the then-Institute for Microcirculation were interlinked with the Zentralinstitut fuer Herz-Kreislauf-Forschung (ZIHK) in Berlin-Buch. The latter was known for strong party- and Stasi-connections. The ZIHK was famous, amongst other things, for employing the son of Stasi minister Erich Mielke, Major Frank Mielke, as a “scientist”. Klopp’s “Publications” page has numerous ZIHK monographs, indicating intense cooperation. The ZIHK was located, as it happens, at the Campus Berlin-Buch, Robert-Rössle-Str.10 – just the adress were Klopp’s “institute” now evaporated.

In 1991/1992 those leading doctors who were fired – or expected to be fired soon – often founded own companies or “institutes”. This is the background of the “Institute for Microcirculation”, which had no future at the Humboldt university. Nothing could differ more from the US picture with Stanford, millions of dollars, and scientific merits.

The scientific community in Germany, as well as now in Finland, merely has a humoristic approach to Klopp’s “research”, if any. BEMER International attempts to change this by spending big money for congresses and marketing stunts. It’s natural that some fall for it.