CHICAGO (CBS) — The Illinois Attorney General’s office is among the agencies now investigating a suburban-based COVID-19 testing company.
As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported Tuesday night, this comes just hours after the Attorney General’s office in Minnesota filed a lawsuit against the Center for Covid Control, which has dozens of sites across the country.
At a Center for Covid Control testing site at Lincoln and Seminary avenues, there are still signs mounted advertising free COVID tests with no appointment or insurance card needed. None of their company’s sites have been operating over the past several days, but many people walked into the trailer they had set up at the site to get a test.
Now, the Center for Covid Control is accused of ripping off people who needed a test, and defrauding insurance companies out of millions.
The CBS 2 Investigators first showed how an employee at one pop-up COVID testing center raised concerns about what was going on inside a Hyde Park clinic. He claimed it was filthy and unsafe, with biohazard waste going into an open trash can.
Now, the Center for Covid Control and its lab, Doctors Clinical Laboratory, have bigger issues than sanitary problems. They are facing legal troubles.
Minnesota Attorney General Ralph Ellison said the testing company’s “advertisements and representations are deceptive and misleading.”
The Center for Covid Control temporarily shut down all its sites earlier this month. Officials said the Rolling Meadows-based company operates is “owned and/or managed by Akbar Syed and Aleya Siyaj.”
They are accused of billing the government for $113 million for tests provided to uninsured patients across the country, and many who actually had insurance.
But the Minnesota lawsuit goes further, claiming that “employees were instructed to falsely tell consumers that the test result had been inconclusive and that they needed to take another test.”
It is a clear indication of fraud, according to Ellison.
“They trusted that they would get correct results on time. They didn’t get that,” he said. “We’re holding these companies accountable that sent back false or inaccurate results when they sent them back at all.”
On Instagram, the company advertised its convenience – where Chicago customers wrote they too never got results – but their insurance was billed. Others called it a scam, and now, the Illinois Attorney General’s office is also involved.
“Deep concern – and of course, the attorney general is on it and the federal government has been on this case as well,” Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday.
Pritzker noted that he previously issued a warning about “fly-by-night testing operations, and said, “If we can close them down, we will.”
The Illinois Attorney General’s office is now investigating complaints and whether the company is in compliance with Illinois law. We reached out to the company, but they did not get back to us Wednesday night.