On Saturday, the FBI searched the Illinois headquarters of a national chain of coronavirus testing sites that have received more than $124 million from the federal government in reimbursements.
The testing sites, known as the Center for COVID Control, operate across the country, but the company and its main lab are registered at the same address in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, USA Today reported. The company and its main lab have received more than $124 million from the federal government in reimbursements for coronavirus testing.
“The FBI was conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity in Rolling Meadows yesterday,” FBI Chicago office spokesperson Siobhan Johnson told USA Today.
Annie Thompson, a spokesperson for Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office, told the outlet that Raoul “is absolutely committed to protecting residents from those who attempt to profit off of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.”
“We are working with the FBI and other law enforcement partners and will not comment on ongoing investigations as we work to hold accountable individuals who engage in unlawful conduct,” Thompson added.
Just days earlier, the Center for COVID Control and its lab had a consumer-protection complaint filed against them by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, which accused the testing sites of “deceptive and fraudulent practices.”
USA Today reported that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office accused the Center of providing “inaccurate and deceptive test result information to Minnesota consumers and have fraudulently reported negative test results to consumers that never completed COVID-19 tests.”
The complaint also alleges that the Center’s main lab told employees to “begin falsely post-dating samples, in order to make them appear to be more recent than they actually were, and to continue sending such samples to the lab for processing.”
“If a consumer called multiple times, employees were instructed to falsely tell consumers that the test result had been inconclusive and that they needed to take another test,” the complaint added, which meant the company could bill insurance for the additional test.
The Center for COVID Control is also being investigated by the Centers for Medicare (CMS) and Medicate Services and the Oregon Department of Justice.
CMS is investigating the company after documenting “deficiencies” at its main lab.
The Center is run by 35-year-old Akbar Syed and his wife, 29-year-old Aleya Siyaj, who came under suspicion in the past few months after posting photos and videos of themselves on social media showing how wealthy they had become, including images of “two Lamborghinis, a 2018 Ford GT, a Ferrari Enzo and a new $1.36 million mansion,” USA Today reported.
At one point, the Center claimed it had more than 300 testing locations throughout 26 states, collecting more than 80,000 tests a day.
“USA TODAY began investigating the company in early January, after a reporter encountered a ‘pop-up’ testing site operating out of a generator-powered shack in Chicago. Since then, dozens of people across at least 18 states have reached out to USA TODAY expressing concerns about the testing sites, and multiple agencies have launched investigations,” the news outlet reported.