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Washington State Suing COVID-19 Testing Center After FBI Raid

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit against the Illinois-based Center for COVID Control, joining other states as well as the federal government who are looking into the center for allegedly providing fake tests and other committing other fraud.

CBS News reported that Ferguson’s lawsuit alleges that the center, which runs more than 300 COVID testing sites across the country, “failed to deliver prompt, valid and accurate results” to customers and for allegedly telling employees to “lie to patients on a daily basis.”

“Center for COVID Control contributed to the spread of COVID-19 when it provided false negative results,” Ferguson said in a press release announcing the lawsuit. “These sham testing centers threatened the health and safety of our communities. They must be held accountable.”

The press release noted that the center operated at least 13 testing sites in Washington but “did not have a license to operate in any municipalities in Washington, except for Yakima, at the time they conducted COVID-19 tests.” The unlicensed testing sites closed on January 13.

The center advertised that they could provide test results within 15 minutes for a rapid antigen test and within 48 hours for a PCR test, but Ferguson alleged the company knew it couldn’t meet those times. His press release said that former employees reported the center received between 8,000 and 10,000 tests a day and could not keep up, but refused to hire more staff.

“Employees began storing tests in garbage bags and piling them up in various corners of the office with no semblance of organization. Some former employees reported regularly finding tests sitting in trash bags that were over a week old, never refrigerated properly and never tested by the company’s lab,” the press release noted. “Testing samples can only keep for so long — a lab manager for the company reported that beyond three days, a sample is invalid. The company’s Director of Operations instructed employees to start falsely post-dating samples to make them appear more recent than they actually were, and submit them for testing anyway so the company could potentially still bill insurance companies or the federal government for the tests.”

The Washington State lawsuit follows lawsuits from other states and an investigation by the federal government into the Center for Covid Control. As The Daily Wire previously reported, the FBI searched the center’s Illinois headquarters. The Center has received more than $124 million from the federal government in reimbursements. Just days before the FBI raid, 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.

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