The nationwide coronavirus testing chain under FBI and multi-state watch was hit with a scathing lawsuit on Thursday — a lawsuit that provides new insight into alleged deceptive business practices and glaring spending by COVID company executives.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum sued the Center for Covid Control and its lead lab, Doctors Clinical Lab, for “deceptive marketing testing services” and violations of the United States’ Unlawful Trade Practices Act. Oregon.
The lawsuit alleges that Aleya Siyaj and Akbar Ali Syed, the married couple who own the Center for COVID Control, “funneled millions of dollars received from the federal government and insurance companies to get tested,” according to the prosecutor’s office. general of Oregon.
Syed, according to the attorney general, cheekily posted photos of the couple’s purchases on social media, including a $1,360,000 mansion as well as luxury cars worth millions – including a sky blue Lamborghini, a red Lamborghini Countach , a Tesla Model Y and a Ferrari Enzo, as previously reported by USA TODAY.
The lawsuit alleges that the chain and the lab falsely told consumers they could provide accurate PCR results within 24 to 72 hours of testing when, in fact, they produced “questionable test results” and did not have the appropriate capacity to store and process the thousands of test samples they received. every day.
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“They announced fast and accurate test results,” Rosenblum said in a statement, “and people trusted them — at a time when COVID-19 testing was in high demand. As a result, residents of Oregon made crucial decisions — about returning to work or school, travel, and visiting family and friends — based on shoddy testing.”
Attorneys general in Minnesota and Washington state filed similar complaints earlier this year. The Washington state lawsuit alleged that the testing operation provided “invalid, false, and delayed” test results, or no results at all, and “frequently marked patients as ‘uninsured,’ even if they were insured”.
In less than a year, the Center for COVID Control has grown from one testing site in Illinois to more than 300 in at least 26 states.
“These companies were ill-equipped to grow as quickly as they did,” Rosenblum said.
As the operation was overwhelmed with testing requests over the holidays, at the height of the omicron push, business leaders tried to reduce the number of PCR samples collected by testing sites, according to the Oregon suit.
In a Dec. 16, 2021, WhatsApp message to an Oregon site operator, Syed wrote that the company would “collapse” if it continued to collect PCR tests from all patients, according to the suit.
Syed further wrote that the decision to limit PCR testing would ‘overturn criticism and all around’, explaining that ‘my idea was even if I would earn 80% less but I [sic] to be able to grow much faster and have happy pokemon and happy customers,” claims the suit.
Former Center for COVID Control headquarters staff told USA TODAY that collectors at test sites were called “pokemon” because the operation wanted to “catch them all” — or catch all available COVID tests.