What’s going on with Valentus?

If you have an interest in MLM, you will probably have heard of Valentus.  They have had a lot of publicity recently. Timeless Vie have written about them before. I will present here a timeline of events and hopefully add to it as developments happen. Let me know if you see anything happening in Valentus so I can update the timeline.

 

10th November 2015 Valentus incorporated in UK, Dave Jordan and Valentus Inc are the company officers.

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25th April 2017 Valentus dissolved in the UK.

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They were dissolved by way of a compulsory strike-off. Here is the official document telling Valentus their business has been dissolved.

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Companies are struck off in the UK by the Registrar of Companies if they believe there is no business going on. The company is warned about it beforehand and can apply for it to remain active. If company accounts aren’t produced and the company is sitting dormant, it is struck off. An explanation is given here by a company formation agent.

 

1st May 2017

Valentus are being sued for not paying for coffee beans from their supplier (see below)

 

2nd May 2017

It emerges that Valentus are countersuing their coffee supplier for not delivering their coffee, and instead, selling it to a rival Vitae Global. There’s all sorts of bickering and strange accusations going on. Have a look at the link for more details. A court date is set for Dec 3rd 2018.

 

4th May 2017

I was alerted to this official video from the Valentus website that explains how you can join the company. The woman giving the presentation is Beth Robinson, now Brannan. All the prices are given in dollars, presumably because the company doesn’t exist in the UK now.

 

 

There are  a few problems with what Beth is saying in this video. She and the company (because this is an official company video) are saying people in the UK can join by paying $499 for their first order. This is the same as about £369. In the UK, it is illegal to spend more than £200 in the first month. If this amount is exceeded, the scheme becomes an illegal pyramid scheme.

Another problem is the assertion that people can just autoship coffee to themselves and recruit, as there are bonuses paid for recruiting. There is no need for there to be any customers or sales. The whole scheme can be run just by recruiting and buying stock for yourself. This again makes the scheme tip over into ‘illegal pyramid’ territory.

 

Sometime in May 2017

Many people report Valentus to Trading Standards and Action Fraud for being an illegal pyramid scheme.

 

13th May 2017

Valentus Facebook post this message to their reps explaining how to get around the law. The message should be that the product cannot be sold in the UK, not how to get around it, as in this message!

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4th August 2017

Charlotte Thomson posts this video on Facebook to explain how Trading Standards have visited her and warned her about trading illegally.

 

 

7th- 10th August 2017

The press took an interest and wrote about Charlotte’s experiences.

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Valentus reps criticise her and accuse her of lying about Trading Standards, saying she got busted for spamming people in a group, and that she should have known not to sell the products.

 

 

9th August 2017

Charlotte releases a statement on Facebook outlining what happened.

“Due to the amount of attention this ‘story’ seems to have attracted I would like to make one final statement before moving on with my life and my new business venture.
Please note I would not have put myself in this position if I did not have every bit of evidence I need to prove the fact that everything I have said is 100% true and I am not the one at fault here. I have screen prints, recorded calls, and emails, from Trading Standards, reps and ‘leaders’ all of which will be used if required. Remember that when reading below .
I was introduced to the business in January and told by Carly Steel and her uplines to order 16 boxes to make the most profit as the cost per box decreases the more you buy. Again I have all the messages between myself and her. So for the Leaders to now say they have never sold is nonsense. If we couldn’t sell, why did we need to order ‘stock?
When I joined the company in January there was no advice or rules on ‘compliance’. It was only in April that strict rules came in that we couldn’t post company or product names. We were advised this was because we were at the final stages of registration, but that the products had been approved and we were just waiting on the UK labels. So yes, I sent a message out about a ‘weightloss coffee’ in Spring time, to Network Cornwall, a networking site that other women use to sell products or advertise their businesses. This was not a paid database and is optional whether you receive emails from other members, so at no point is this spamming. THIS despite what fingers are being pointed, is NOT the reason myself, or the company is being investigated. It is the products and the company failing to adhere to UK laws.
For the company to now be still trading without selling a product is a Pyramid Scheme – Illegal. So whether they are selling or just ‘recruiting’ they are acting illegally.
All Beth Robinson’s videos that showed how to boost sales and make profit from selling boxes have been removed from YouTube – Make of this what you will. I have screen prints from their Team Pages telling reps to keep selling but only to close family or friends, and not on social media, to avoid being caught – What sort of company is this!?
I have been advised by Trading Standards that I cannot sell or be associated with the brand, and that other leaders and reps are under investigation for also selling illegally, whether they were doing so knowingly or not. All I have done is try to speak out and protect everyone else in the firing line.
The amount of lies and deceit from the top leaders and coaches in this company has shocked me – Which led me to my decision not to continue. Yes I was offered legal assistance but I was also told I would be ‘suspended’ to pacify Trading Standards’ while a separate account was set up in another name. Ask yourself why would they do this if I was at fault? I do not want, or need to be defended by a company with such unscrupulous morals and little consideration for their representatives.
Re me planning this whole thing, I contacted Ariix on Thursday 3rd August, when it was clear the firm in question couldn’t provide Trading Standards with any of the information they requested to give them assurance that the company was trading legally in the UK
To clarify:
The company is not registered in the UK (Dublin, for your information, is in the EU )
As food and drink importers we have to register as Food Business Operators in the UK – We were never advised of this
I have been advised that the products do not comply comply with all relevant EU and UK laws including The Food Safety Act 1990, The Food Information Regulations 2014, The Nutrition and Health Claims (England) Regulations 2007 , The Coffee Extracts and Chicory Extracts Regulations 2000 and The Food Additives, Flavourings, Enzymes and Extraction Solvents Regulations 2013.
There is no evidence of the company being registered in the UK – And that ‘magic’ registration date keeps getting pushed further back as you are aware
There is no proven scientific evidence for the effectiveness or the ingredients or products
The UK labels which will illustrate that the products meet UK regulations have not been provided
Therefore it is not legal to trade in the UK even sending people to our website.
For anyone that has any concerns or doubts to my comments, rather than shooting the messenger and abusing me, use your brain and take 5 minutes out to call your local Trading Standards office who will confirm what I am saying.
I am angry, upset and disappointed at the abuse I have received for standing up for myself and the thousands of other reps in the UK. I will not stand for any more threats and abuse – And any evidence of such will be forwarded to the relevant authorities.
Apologies from the bottom of my heart to all of my customers, and team, that I have let down, I genuinely had no idea of the situation, and it has taught me 2 huge lessons to a) Do my research and b) To trust no one.
Unfortunately for many people, greed is far more important than integrity.”

Charlotte releases a picture of the email from Trading Standards proving her claims.

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The laws mentioned above that are being breached-

The Food Safety Act 1990

The Food Information Regulations 2014

The Nutrition and Health Claims (England) Regulations 2007

The coffee Extracts and Chicory Extracts Regulations 2000

The Food Additives, Flavourings, Enzymes and Extraction Solvents Regulations 2013

 

Charlotte is now working for Ariix, another MLM company, selling products and recruiting people again. They also have products that cannot be sold legally.

 

20th August 2017

A video emerges on You Tube of the head of Valentus registration explaining that ‘technically’ their products are illegal. She tries to downplay the significance of this and says it’s not as bad as a drug deal! She blames the whole scandal on Charlotte spamming people and someone telling tales. She does the age old thing of blaming another MLM competitor.

 

25th September 2017

Some reps are claiming a launch date of a few weeks, others are saying November, some are saying they aren’t allowed to say. I guess it will down to how long it takes to sort out all their issues.

 

Should I add anything else to the timeline? Let me know of any developments or send me any documents/ screengrabs you have that would fit in. I will be keeping this post up to date.

 

Lean Java Bean coffee

Lean Java Bean coffee is starting to be promoted by poor, deluded bots who have found their last MLM did not work. They are hoping that this is the one that will make them millions. After all, it is clinically proven, everyone likes coffee and everyone needs to lose weight without putting in any effort right? Surely they can’t lose? After all, their last coffee MLM had problems because the meanies wouldn’t let them promise weight loss miracles. This one will apparently. They sell weight loss coffee and expensive ‘tools’ aimed at self improvement (read ‘brainwashing products’)

Let’s look at the claims made and the evidence behind them. Then we’ll look at the law and see if they should be making these claims.

Here are some of the claims being made out there…

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Wow! That’s quite some coffee! The list of claims is significant and promises quite a lot. The addition of ‘clinically proven results’ sounds quite impressive and has obviously convinced the people trying to sell it.

So what are the ingredients? They seem to be-

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I went to the website of the actual company , through clicking on a rep’s link, and found some details about the amazing ingredients. There are 3.

Ingredient 1.

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20 people is a very, very small sample of people to base any conclusions on. Even if it is without ‘side affects’. The dose quoted is 500mg, how much is in the coffee? We don’t know because that isn’t disclosed on the label. It could be 1mg for all we know. Let’s see if we can find the research that was done to come up with these claims.

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The above article summary is from the Super Citrimax part of the Lonza website.  Lonza manufacture Citrimax.  If you understand research (as I do), you will notice that there are only 24 participants which is pathetically low. More tellingly, the results are not as good as they are making out. It says at the end that ‘body weight tended to decrease (P=0.1)’. For a result to be statistically significant, ie the results are what they say they are, the P value needs to be less than 0.05. This means the research does not show Citrimax does anything except reduce how much energy the people consumed. It has no effect on feelings of fullness or weight loss.

Three other research papers are cited on the super Citrimax website, but none of them describe anything resembling the research cited by Java Bean. Another study stated results but they were not all statistically significant. Even more tellingly, it was described as a pilot study. This is a type of study that is done as a practice run to see if it is worth running a bigger study. There is no mention of a bigger study. Either they didn’t do one or no significant results were found.

Ingredient 2.

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Lonza describe the two studies that were done on Chromemate. The first one had 4 groups of 10. Just ten! LDL cholesterol, and therefore total cholesterol, were reduced in the small group that took Chromemate. Three other cholesterol related numbers were not affected. Again, this was a pilot study with no follow up. The other ‘study’ wasn’t a study at all, rather, it was someone theorising how Chromemate might be useful for atheletes.

Ingredient 3.

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I found the website that is linked to this ingredient. It is pretty disturbing. It has to be visited really to truly take in the horrors of this product. Cocaine leaves without the cocaine? What?

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The ingredients are listed here. The reasoning for including these ingredients are mostly traditional use claims, such as

Annatto Leaf Powder

Annatto Leaf Powder – the rainforest tribes have used the entire plant as medicine for centuries. The Piura tribe as an aphrodisiac and astringent, and to treat skin problems, fevers, dysentery, and hepatitis uses a tea made with the young shoots. The leaves are used to treat skin problems, liver disease, and hepatitis. The plant has also been considered good for the digestive system. The Cojedes tribe uses an infusion of the flowers to stimulate the bowels and aid in elimination as well as to avoid phlegm in newborn babies. Traditional healers in Colombia have also used annatto as an antivenin for snakebites. The seeds are believed to be an expectorant, while the roots are thought to be a digestive aid and cough suppressant”.

 

So, are the claims made for the coffee based on trustworthy facts?

There has been no research done to test the Lean Bean Java coffee.

The claims come from research and traditional claims made for individual ingredients.

The research is flimsy at best.

We don’t know how much of the ingredients are in the coffee itself.

 

I conclude that there is not enough evidence for the claims that are being made for the coffee.

 

Legally allowed claims

But surely, for the company (and the people selling and buying it from them) to make these claims, they must have pretty solid grounds? They are making claims that their product can interact with the body and change how it works, bringing about changes. This means it is a medicine in UK law and a drug in US law. The MHRA regulates medicines in the UK and they say this-

“A medicinal product is:

  • any substance or combination of substances presented as having properties of preventing or treating disease in human beings
  • any substance or combination of substances that may be used by or administered to human beings with a view to restoring, correcting or modifying a physiological function by exerting a pharmacological, immunological or metabolic action, or making a medical diagnosis”

If  product is to be sold as a medicine, it needs to have a licence from the MHRA. Is Lean Bean Java coffee or any of the three ingredients listed as a medicine?

I searched the MHRA’s list of licenced medicines.  The following ingredients were not on the list- Lean Bean Java, Macoca, Chromemate and Citrimax (with and without the ‘super’). This means they are not an authorised medicine so no medical claims can be made about it or the ingredients.

I decided to search the European Medicines Agency (EMA). They keep a register of medicines and herbal remedies for the whole of Europe. I searched for the same ingredients. Guess what? There is no record of any of the ingredients there either.

I then looked up some of the other ingredients on the EMA. Ginseng root can be claimed to be able to treat tiredness and weakness, but not if it is in combination with other herbal medicines.  There is no good science for it, and a few side effects, but this ingredient can only be claimed as a herbal remedy if it has been authorised by the MHRA in the UK. Looking this up, the only Ginseng products that are allowed to make these claims are from two companies that make it in tablet form.

Green tea extract was searched for next. The EMA are still evaluating the evidence. The MHRA have not licenced any green tea products based on their herbal use.

I then looked up all the other ingredients on the EMA and MHRA websites and found no mention of any of them. I won’t bore you with the links to each search. You can have a look yourself if you like.

Legally then, no one can claim that Lean Java Bean or any of its ingredients can affect metabolism or have any noticeable effects on the body. Looking back at the images in the beginning of this post, there are many claims being made about the physical effects of this product on the body. These are very, very wrong, as well as misleading.

 

What can be done?

Companies should not be allowed to get away with making misleading and illegal claims about their products. There are safeguards in place to prevent these lies from being made and products sold under false pretences. The legal body in the UK that monitors these adverts is called the Advertising Standards Authority. They refer to a set of rules called CAP that set out what can and can’t be said. Their website says they were set up keep adverts ‘legal, decent, honest and truthful’.

If you see any adverts about Lean Java Bean coffee claiming they cause any physical effect on the body’s functions, you can complain to the ASA. It is a really simple process and you can do it anonymously if you like. Normally, if you complain about an MLM, it is the rep who was selling it that got in trouble and they took the blame. The company reprimanded them or fired them (so much for being an independent business owner). In this instance, however, the claims seem to be coming direct from the company (Vitae Global).

Background to the company.

I tried to look up this company at Companies House but there seems to be no trace of them. I wanted to see their history and the owners’ details for some clues as to what they might be upto. A little look around shows a facebook page that has been deleted, and a  Behind MLM review that has been deleted. I found this review, but be warned, it tries to sell you his method of recruiting but it has a lot of information.

Here is a video message for the founders who are joining before the company launches. Jim Britt literally promises you will be rich very quickly and very easily. I investigated the company further but I began to be drawn down a rabbit hole so I extricated myself and decided not to bother.

For now, I would just like to concentrate on the fact that the health claims are bogus, illegal and come straight from the company.

 

What you can do

Please complain to the ASA if you see any of these illegal health claims for this coffee. It needs to be stopped. The complaint form is straightforward to fill in. You will need to take a screengrab and note the time and place that you saw the advert.

The basis for the complaint will be that the health claims are not allowed as the product is not a medicine or herbal remedy as regulated by the MHRA. Let us know how you get on…