Tag Archives: scam

Two Valkee trials declared published junk (X-mas special 5)

Dozens of hilarious details about Valkee Ltd’s HumanCharger scam go untold because they don’t warrant a full blog post. As a present for Christmas Day, here’s the best of all.

The Valkee “research” group has published a number of trial results in unfavorable ways:

The only positive trial with evidence value for Valkee in a scientific journal was the one with the 22 ice hockey players supposedly pimped by earlight to better reaction, published in Frontiers in Physiology.

I say it was, because it had been until now.

It is a real pleasure for me to tell you, that this very special journal series was officially elevated to junk status, by Scholarly Open Access. That’s the No.#1 authority. The list is used by, for example, finnish universities to determine the standing of a publication.

christmas for gloom, frontiers and valkee!

With it, a second Valkee study goes down the tube, which is no longer on their website. It was in Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience.

The decision was overdue: The fake peer-review was obvious in the ice hockey article, where one of the authors was among the editors, and a dance instructor with no idea was assigned to review it by her lab boss. That’s not a fluke. It’s systematic pseudoscience done by Frontiers.

Is there anything left of Valkee’s evidence, among the ruins?

According to usually well-informed sources, there is one final blow still coming.
A nice Christmas to all and a Happy New Year!

HumanCharger study done to counter critics, disappears again (X-mas special 4)

Dozens of hilarious details about Valkee Ltd’s HumanCharger scam go untold because they don’t warrant a full blog post. As a Christmas present, here are some of such pearls.

When Finland’s Valkee Ltd re-launched their earlight device in 2015 under its new name HumanCharger, there was an exceptional piece among all the PR articles which simply reuttered their press release.

Fierce Biotech criticism

This is the first placebo-controlled trial ever conducted for a bright-light device, the company said.[SIC!] The data may be designed, at least in part, to address allegations widely publicized online that the company’s product is a scam.

Stacey Lawrence of Fierce Biotech had a bright moment.

You may wonder how the company can be forced into a study because of this blog and a few articles elsewhere. And how could they possibly even succeed?

Simple as it is: Valkee bought the “evidence”. The study has disappeared from the net and Valkee’s websites again, but is still available in full from earlightswindle.com/gloom (PDF). The small-print in the last paragraph reads:

We would like to thank Clinius Ltd., an independent company, which conducted the study on behalf of Valkee Ltd.

The study is not done for any scientific purpose and as such unethical from the start. And it’s unclear who the real investigators were. Clinius is a company from Helsinki, Finland.

 

Stay tuned for the next part tomorrow, and the best of all on December 24th!

Valkee Ltd doubles the bribe! (X-mas special 1)

Dozens of hilarious details about Valkee Ltd’s HumanCharger scam go untold because they don’t warrant a full blog post. As a Christmas present, here are some of such pearls.

Is there any positive Valkee review written without bribe changing hands? Usually it’s the device itself: Bloggers, journalists etc. get a “medical iPod” (Valkee slogan) for free. Though it’s totally useless compared to the popular music player, and it has no medical effect, it somehow looks nice and that’s what everyone writes after “testing” it.

The review won’t be negative, because it’s 200 Euro a piece. You’re made to think you’re one of the chosen few. Instead, Valkee has given out many hundreds of the “Chargers”. A logical move, as there are thousands unsold devices in stock, and any short blog post is worth more than the few Euros for the 2 LEDs.

With Valkee Ltd going its natural course, this idea metastatizes further:

 

Bribing the same writer twice

Valkee doublecrossed tech writer Robin Wauters back in 2013.

Robin Wauters Tech.eu

Now he has used the trigger words jet lag in a tweet and is provided with the second, identical device.

Robin Wauters bribe 2

Note the word borrow! After Slush 13, the honest one of all the “journalists” really wanted to return the Valkee device. It came out, that Valkee had no wish and no procedure to accept any such return.

 

Doubling the loot

To get rid of the stockpiles, the innovative Valkee Ltd just came up with a new breakthrough idea. Send two instead of one.

Rubbish twice No shit!!

The Christmas special continues tomorrow, with more Valkee buffooning.

U.S. FDA refused import of Valkee HumanCharger devices

Valkee Ltd now began the third launch of their product – the second relaunch of the LED headset – with its new target North America. But: How could the mighty U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allow such a scam device onto the market?

It turns out, they didn’t. The FDA had refused the Valkee “HumanCharger” import into the U.S.A. earlier this year. For a number of reasons, mainly misbranding.

fda-refusal

UPDATE 7/2017:
The FDA changed its code, the document can be found clicking the link above and then
Feb > 2015 > Country: Finland. [screenshot]refusal-valkee-fda

 

There are several ways to get “approved” by the FDA, depending on the classification. Valkee’s HumanCharger got no 510(k) clearance, and certainly not a Premarket Approval (PMA), for which one must present sufficient clinical trial data.

It is not listed as approved with the FDA (the listings here) in any possible way. [- If any reader has additional information, please let us know. -]

That, however, does not mean it is sold illegally. Many light therapy devices, for example such for cosmetic uses, are exempt from FDA regulation. Then they can’t make relevant medical claims. That’s exactly what Valkee Ltd demonstrates: The device is sold as a lifestyle – weight loss aid – sleep promoter – energy booster. Just typical scam claims. It may work on tech people who are prone to fall for such innovations.

as jet-lag cure ...

Valkee does not need any research staff for this strategy, the marketing trial being published. So the company fired its Research Manager Heidi Jurvelin, the Research and Science Liaison Manager Melanie Rueger PhD, sales people, and replaced the CEO Pekka Somerto with Aki Backman. (Jurvelin and others now appear at Valkee’s sister project JouZen Oy  aka OURA, fulfilling predictions by the social media influencer Vesa Linja-aho: Valkee scales down to a sales bureau, and JouZen takes over.)

The new course is set. Personally, I would miss this absurd tale when it came to an abrupt end, now as they finally seem to stop scamming of sick people and look for the too-healthy jet-set clients. However, it does not look good for Valkee Ltd. There are many wonder treatments for jet lag already.

 

***

p.s. at least left Valkee

  • Heidi Jurvelin (to JouZen/Oura)
  • Melanie Rueger
  • Tuukka Josefsson
  • Tero Vallius (to JouZen/Oura)
  • Jonna Muurinen

 

Valkee’s jet lag trial, full text: No “HumanCharger” at all (Update)

Valkee Ltd seems to have completely abandoned its SAD claims, now the device is called “HumanCharger” and works – clinically tested! – on jet lag. Marketing bubbles re-used: They only changed some words in their PR stuff, the rest is the same as for SAD. The same unproven claims.

as jet-lag cure ...

as jet-lag cure …

... and for Seasonal Affective Disorder!

… and for Seasonal Affective Disorder!

Needless to say, these things were never tested. Valkee logic: Because it is approved for SAD, and those are SAD symptoms, it works on these. Therefore, it does the same for jet lag users!

The whole jet lag campaign is based on a study, which appeared already on April 1st in the journal Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance. Valkee says that this proves a jet lag effect. Its SAD studies are all on the Valkee website, this one remained behind the paywall. Typical Valkee users and marketing folks don’t need the facts and are better off without it. To pay 30 Dollars for a Valkee paper? Simply believe!

Update 12.6.17:40: The study is now available from Valkee HumanCharger, direct download from the site. It is not linked yet from any of their sites, and not found neither by google nor google scholar. It was added in the meantime to a press release. The leak for this post was several weaks ago.

Now one of Valkee’s little helpers did not get the memo, and leaked the document into the public domain. I can mirror it here without doing something illegal:

The full text of Valkee’s jet lag trial (4,6 Mb)

I do not have the spare time to comment, but the main outcome is, that the device did not work on practically all things measured. No significant difference at the end of the predefined treatment period for 10 of at least eleven tested scores. Only one subscale of the POMS brought a significance, and this can be explained with multiple testing.

The funny point: It was the fatigue subscale. Exactly the same single result, as the homeopathic “remedy” No-Jet-Lag got in its own company trial.

recover "twice as fast" with homeopathy!

recover “twice as fast” with homeopathy!

The difference: The homeopathic treatment is to be taken orally, during the flight. The Valkee device must be used for 6 (six!) days after the flight, 4 (four!) times a day to get to the same result. 24 treatment sessions.

Valkee is nearly as good as the leading homeopathic treatment.

placebo

 

***

Addition: The analysis was done on 52 patients, but the article speaks of 55 (Figure 3). What happened to the rest? Drop-outs happened, but are not reported. The whole statistics are invalidated. Incredible that this got through peer review.

Valkee Ltd vs. Earlightswindle.com: Shutdown Attempt, Legal Action Fails (2. update & document)

The finnish earlight seller Valkee Ltd. sent forth lawyers and tried to misuse police force in a failed attempt to silence this website, which is criticizing the company’s practices. The prosecution was stopped now by the officials, declaring there has been no wrongdoing.

The full document set is not yet available to the public, because it may still be sealed by the authorities. However, according to Finland’s laws on Freedom of Information, after any investigation the material shall be in the public domain. Earlightswindle.com tries to get the scans as soon as they become available. By now it can only describe and cite without revealing the acting persons’ names. It shouldn’t be so hard to guess. See update section below.

 

Behind the scenes

Valkee Ltd demanded to close this website within weeks of its establishment in late 2012. Until then, the critical view on the once-applauded, self-declared startup firm had less than 50 visitors. The first deadlines set by Valkee’s board expired without effect.

valkee-letter-2013

Strangely, all communication was sent to a certain person which Valkee claims to be behind this project. There’s never been any message to the e-mail address given for this purpose from the very first day. They did not demand factual corrections. Instead, the earlight firm made clear that this website had to disappear before it could be noticed by the general public.

The successive additions to earlightswindle.com during 2013 coincided with Valkee’s problems after reports by a now-critical mainstream press, and the widely recognized 2012 FlimFlam award. Social media picked up the Valkee story in August 2013, overshadowing the launch of the Valkee 2 device. The company had a defensive reply attached to its most important campaign in years. A catastrophic event in marketing terms, followed by the even more devastating independent trial countering their 2013 Christmas campaign. Something had to be done.

 

Police is called in

A Valkee representant made a complaint to the finnish police in January 2014. Earlightswindle.com was said to cause massive damage to the company. The person they made responsible should be punished, and convicted to pay compensation.

In May 2014, a renewed complaint came in. Valkee saw this site as a vital threat to its operations and shareholders. It urged the officers to act immediately, because now a twitter account EarLightSwindle existed, making the information available to an even bigger audience.


Warning: Clicking this is hurting Valkee (says Valkee).

lawsuit2-4[1]

(update: p.4 of complaint no.2, Valkee’s CEO said this post to be a pure canard. OMD)

Legal grounds

Finnish libel law only covers insults against persons. It rules out punishment for criticism made about one’s business, or science. But there is a foxhole: If the criticism is too sharp, and may directly harm a specific person, it leads to prosecution. Such cases went through the High Court with considerable sentences. The criticism on this site is extreme, and the things told here are likely to hurt persons involved. Yet, it had to be false and mendacious. The truth cannot be unlawful.

  • First, [X] declared to be Valkee in person (“Valkee henkilöityneenä”). Everything said about the company would mean him, because he was speaking for it on countless occasions, and is presumed to be its face.
  • Second, criticism of his work would ruin his career as a researcher.
  • Third, authorities had never investigated Valkee for fraud or anything else, and therefore it cannot be called a scam.

Would that have gone through, it would have enormous impact on free speech in Finland: It would be a punishable offence to use the word swindle, scam, hoax (“huijaus”) without a court decision.

480px-Free-speech-flag

Unthinkable? Not for Valkee, the innovative young firm from Oulu Helsinki.

Fortunately, earlightswindle.com is in English and made for an English-speaking audience. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration defines a health fraud scam as:

products that claim to prevent, treat, or cure diseases or other health conditions, but are not proven safe and effective for those uses.

Valkee Ltd has sold, or is selling, the earlight devices for

  • Migraine
  • Shift work disorder
  • circadian rythm shifting
  • optimizing cognitive performance
  • Bipolar Disorder (!!), and
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder.

It has no accepted evidence for any of those claims. It has only an approval for SAD. So Valkee is per definitionem a scam, or health fraud, or however one may call this. Practically, and in legal terms. The FDA exculpates that fully, without any need to explain, or to understand scientific details.

 

Closing the case

After one year, the officers working on the case and the prosecutor made the decision to end the investigation, because it is highly unlikely to lead to a conviction under these circumstances. There has been no wrongdoing. Valkee has left only the possibility to call on a civil court. The chances to win the facts are near zero, after it was made clear that nothing unlawful happened. But the company has money left. It would not surprise if they make a last stand.

The important message is, that here is no slander, no lies, no defamation. Don’t expect Valkee to accept that. Be sure, Valkee will not be prosecuted for … at least not for their false claims about earlightswindle.com.

 

Some words in private

This thing has caused me sleepless nights, as you may understand. Not so much because of the criminal case in itself – the website was considered court-proof from the beginning simple because of its factual correctness. It shocked me, after all I’ve seen from Valkee, that they are willing to misuse authorities and to mislead them with such bogus claims.

Oskari Onninen seems to be correct when he notices:

This is Valkee, a company of two truths. One the company’s own, the other the outside world’s. Comparing them is like reading Russia Today and the New York Times at the same time and trying to assess whether Vladimir Putin is a good guy or a crook.

And if a Valkee-truth is collided with another truth, the company is instantly at your throat.

The original, 50+ pages lawsuit material contains absolutely incredible misconceptions, false translations and awesome claims by Valkee. This post may be updated with that if readers wish so.

I never told about these Valkee activities before, though I know that “the Internet” hates such commercial censorship. I was just so fed up with the evil. On the other hand, the finnish scam company knew what they were taking on. They knew it would become public one way or the other.

Now I need some time out.

CU./-ed.


UPDATE 2.4.2015:

Mr [X], who filed the complaint for Valkee Ltd, did not want the documents online – for personal reasons, he said. Fine with me, although disappointing for some readers: Saves time and money. His decision demands no comment.

I have the complaint scans here, and if someone wants them, you’re free to check it, if you don’t put them online. I gave my word.

Then I discovered, that Valkee’s PR-mistress kittikatti alias Christina Forsgard was retweeting foul and despicable claims about me to over 6.600 persons. These may not be aware of the role she played in the scandal.

forsgard-crackpot

– The prosecutor would’ve had stopped the investigation because only a fine (= and no jail term) was to be expected. As if our “too liberal justice system” prevented a conviction. Absolutely awful. Just think a moment: If that would be a reason for stopping, how could anybody be fined at all in Finland? Forsgard must have known that this is rubbish.

– The prosecutor’s decision would not tell, if there had been a crime or not.

– The prosecutor would have looked, if I did harm to [X]’s family. This is an extremely abject claim, and there was not a single word about this even in the complaints. Of course the prosecutor didn’t check this. Unbearable.

So here is the prosecutor’s decision in full. See for yourselves.

 prosec000  prosec001  prosec003

 “… THE CASE:

[X] is suspecting [Ed.] to have committed defamation by making untrue claims and hints about Valkee Ltd. and [X] on the website earlightswindle.com. [Ed.] is also suspected to have maintained the website korvavalohuijaus.com, where also Valkee Ltd’s earlight device was criticised. [Ed.] had also given an interview in the YLE TV program MOT: The Earlight Tale. (…)

GROUNDS:

(…) the investigation shall be stopped on grounds of the crimes’ negligibility, because the prosecutor would not be able to bring a charge. Also, there is no important public or private interest in bringing a charge.

(…processual law tells, that) the official prosecutor may abstain from bringing a charge, if the expected sentence is no more than a fine… or if the crime can be seen as negligible.”

It tells, that the prosecutor is allowed to drop charges, if no more than a fine is expected. Only then. This is not the reason, this is the condition for stopping.

The next paragraph cites the defamation chapter of finnish penal law, and that criticism of one’s business, science, politics, etc. is not libel, if it can be seen as acceptable. As I told in the post above.

“In the present case, [Ed.] has criticised the company founded by [X] and the device which is developed and manufactured by them. Therefore his criticism is about business and science. It is a new product, about which absolutely no independent study results are available. [not true, /-Ed.]

Taking into account the newness of the device and the method, and the lack of evidence, it is understandable that it is met also with fierce criticism.

The vast majority of [Ed.s] claims are about the efficacy of the device produced by the company and its possible benefits for users. That is criticism related to business and science. For that, the criteria of defamation according to penal law are not fulfilled. Even if some of the claims would be false, these would be negligible. [Ed.s] claims and his criticism of Valkee Ltd. and [X] do not exceed the acceptable.”

Then the points of the 2 leading GROUNDS paragraphs are affirmed.

For those who are familiar with finnish lawsuits, the prosecutor is going very, very far, as he can, in making clear that there is nothing punishable. The statement even rules out that charges could be brought for other claims.

The text even tells, that it is OK to criticise Valkee Ltd, because there is no accepted evidence. Thanks for that nice feature, Mr Pyykönen!

It is absolutely disgusting to see, how Valkee’s PR people work. Making statements for those, who do not check the facts anyway. Or for those, who aren’t aware that Valkee’s words always have to be checked. They are seldom true.

FYI: Valkee Ltd told it has nothing to do with that lawsuit. Ok. Readers know by now, that everything written here is provable and correct. Just because lawsuits are expected. QED. I see this as a nice joke, and there is no need to answer that nonsense defense.

Follow the money: How Valkee’s leaders are cashing in

Personal tax data is public in Finland. Tax offices have terminals where the data can be viewed easily. The screens look like this:

somerto-screen-2012

Screenshots are on file for all of the following. Numbers rounded to x1000€. The mean wage in Finland is 3.200, and at the median 2.900 Euro monthly.

 

Pekka Somerto, CEO

2013: 226.000 Euro (18.800€/month)

2012: 355.000 Euro (29.500€/month)

Joined Valkee in January 2012. The extraordinary 2012 sum may partially stem from a “golden handshake” from Nokia, his former employer. The typical way to get rid off such high cost managers. Somerto made 242.000 in 2011.

Somerto is paid like CEOs of companies listed at the Helsinki stock exchange. With that kind of firm. The finnish prime minister Alexander Stubb gets about 11.000€/month.

 

Juuso Nissilä, CSO

2013: 94.000 Euro (7.800€/month)

2012: 76.000 Euro (6.300€/month)

2011: 79.000 Euro (6.600€/month)

Nissilä was asked on Radio Helsinki, how much he’s cashing in. He refused to answer. He’d just posed with a new car on facebook. No further questions.

 

Aki Backman, CTO

2013: 107.000 Euro (8.900€/month)

A Chief Technology Officer for this product. With such a pay check.

 

Antti Aunio, CTO (-2012)

2012: 83.000 Euro (6.900€/month)

2011: 84.000 Euro (7.000€/month)

Valkee’s co-founder has left, which clearly downed his income: To 58.000 in 2013.

 

Timo Ahopelto, Chairman

2013: 82.000 Euro (6.800€/month)

2012: 68.000 Euro (5.700€/month)

The LifeLine Ventures investor gets the smallest pay check – from his Finland activities.

 

Overview for direct links (pure numbers, avoiding my comments):

valkee-cxo-income

 Note that Valkee is steadily losing ground, making losses for years, and exists on tax and investors’ money.

***

In the meantime, the company tells about a journal publication which was portrayed already here. Of course it’s foul. I will not explain it again. The journal has a problem now, as have the authors.

For those who aren’t familiar with clinical studies: Professor Timo Partonen, head of the mood disorder department at the finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and a world-leading expert for Seasonal Affective Disorder, commented on that study

[this is] scientific misconduct.

Partonen is, amongst many other tasks, editor-in-chief of the Annals of Medicine.

Valkee’s Research: What a Waste!

An extensive article about the Valkee scam was in the Ylioppilaslehti paper. Many new findings, like I promised earlier this year. I don’t have the time to translate it. Always remember the official statement:

The chancellor (rector) of the University of Oulu, Lauri Lajunen, says that Valkee Ltd. did not emerge from research at the university. It had partially sponsored some trials, but there is no scientific cooperation or any other kind of links to the university.

”Valkee’s web pages can easily create the impression, that they have clear scientific evidence, and are based on research done at the University of Oulu. I checked this with our lawyers, and we as an University now have to contact Valkee about this”, Lajunen says.

* * *

A side product was a list of all studies by the Valkee group, or what they claim to have done, and all other earlight-related stuff as per Sep 3, 2014. It is 100% complete with links to papers and should replace the outdated research page at earlightswindle.com.

XLS: All Earlight and Valkee studies, September 2014.

It’s long. I really suggest to have a look. I’m still shocked how far they were allowed to go, and what level of pseudoscience can be done at a finnish university.

Remember that such trials are expensive. Valkee has burned investors’ and tax money for years. And how could any ethics commission still give an OK for more studies?

After all, they could have simply accomplished a straightforward placebo-controlled trial at any point. (BTW they did, but it did not work.) Every unbiased scientist would have stopped this nonsense long ago.

No need for more “research” on an ear lamp scam born over a drink.

Finnish Government gives Science & Ethics a GFY, promotes Valkee’s Chairman

The Finnish Government (valtioneuvosto) has promoted Valkee’s chairman, Ex-CEO and investor Timo Ahopelto to the board of the tax-funded TEKES agency. The man who has wasted millions in this scam. The person who was in charge when a fake publication by Valkee lured TEKES into throwing more millions on the company.

This is the most bizarre and absurd political move possible – at a time when Valkee’s fast demise became apparent. Ahopelto is now responsible for TEKES spending policy, he decides about projects greater than 3 M Euros.

Now a few words in private. No, I don’t expect Valkee to get another 3 M€ from TEKES. But I expect that they went finally too far with this.

The policy makers could hardly say it more directly: Fuck the public opinion. Fuck science. Fuck ethics. Here is money to be spent.

Simply incredible.

Valkee’s sales crash, loss explodes, tax funding stops: The results

Valkee Ltd has filed its 2/2014 balance with the tax office just hours before the last deadline on 27th June 2014. It seems they had every reason to keep it private as long as possible. However, yesterday Valkee’s results became available.

Interestingly, the press remains silent so far. The disaster is worth reporting.

balance2014-1

Revenue

Valkee’s sales are down 44,3% from 1,941 million in 2/2013 to 1,080 million Euros. The scandinavian campaign last winter has not paid off, it seems. The Valkee 2 must be a total flop.

Loss

Loss grew by more than factor 10 to 2,919 million. Loss is therefore nearly x3 the revenue.

Debt

Debt grew by a million to 2,55 million.

Investments

Last year, Valkee told on all media channels they had acquired a giant 7,4 M investment from old investors and abroad. The balance tells only of 3,456 M and 1,75 M in new shares. Where is the rest they promised? Capital left was 843.000 843 T€.

Tax funding

Public funding by TEKES was all the years booked as “Other income”. Last year Valkee got over 878.000€ tax money. This is down to 70.000 71.000 which would mean that state funding has practically stopped.

***UPDATE 11.7.2014***

The press has finally reacted to the ass-kick: Helsingin Sanomat, Kaleva, Kansan Uutiset, …
Some of the journalists have been in contact with earlightswindle.com. Radio Helsinki gave Valkee’s “CSO” Juuso Nissilä massive air time in a 2-hr program. The trashy interview included strange remarks about this site and this blog, may be commented later. Nissilä admitted, that this website has had a central part in Valkee’s downturn.

Pekka Somerto, CEO of Valkee Ltd, told that it’s nothing special for a company to have ups and downs (!), and that the result was within the acceptable range – because Valkee had not gone for new markets in the last fiscal year. Somerto lies to the press, at least that is then business as usual.

Valkee expanded to Norway and Sweden - An epic fail.

Valkee expanded to Norway and Sweden last winter: An epic fail.

The Paholaisen Asianajaja-blog was able to confirm that TEKES funding for Valkee has stopped. The agency told that already. Thx Juha for the cross-check!

Valkee’s balance sheets seem to be of public interest, and were requested by many. So here the documents are in full:

valkee-balance-2-2014
Valkee_balance-2013
Valkee_balance-2012
Valkee_balance-2011