Gear Shed

Revolutionary Fitness Tracker or Indiegogo Fraud?

This fitness tracker could change everything—as long as the company marketing it actually exists.

The HealBe GoBe fitness tracker     Photo: Courtesy of HealBe

A new fitness tracker called the HealBe GoBe promises to change the way we work out. There's just one problem: It might be vaporware. 

This week, the new tech company HealBe and crowdfunding site Indiegogo updated their FAQs in response to doubts of HealBe’s legitimacy. But prospective backers are still asking plenty of questions.

James Robinson with PandoDaily, a website devoted to covering startups, shot a query to HealBe a few weeks ago: Does this supposedly revolutionary product even exist? HealBe claims its tracker provides users with the first automatic calorie count by reading the glucose in your cells, live hydration levels, and other impressive (and implausible-sounding) features. The company promised to share information on its patents, but we’ve seen nothing yet.

Well, not nothing. Indiegogo responded with an updated FAQ page, which points out that not all campaigns go through the fraud review process. The site refuses to pull the nearly $1 million HealBe has already raised.

Here’s what we do know about HealBe. It’s based in Moscow and it has a public relations and legal team in New Hampshire, Robinson reports. It also has a nice-looking website. And it’s raised a lot of questions from Robinson.

The company doesn’t have an online history of the project’s creator, CEO Artem Shipitsin. The San Francisco office it claims to use as a base doesn’t exist, and the GoBe never appeared at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show despite what HealBe said. The Federal Trade Commission barred HealBe from advertising through traditional media until it releases some legitimate information.

Robinson says “the crowd” is doing its part. Refund requests are piling up on the project’s Indiegogo page, and HealBe’s reclusiveness even spurred the first Indiegogo parody page. The fraud team just caught that one. HealBe’s campaign expires next week, so hopefully we'll have an answer by then. Indiegogo’s reputation may rest in the balance.

Update: "HealBe" is a failed Russian cakeshop owner. And no one's getting their money back. Read the full story here.

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