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FBI searches headquarters of national Covid testing company

The company, the Center for COVID Control, has billed the federal government more than $120 million for testing uninsured people.

Federal agents executed a search warrant at the Chicago-area headquarters of a national pop-up testing chain called the Center for COVID Control, a spokesperson for the Health and Human Services inspector general said Monday.  

The FBI assisted in the search of the facility in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, said the spokesperson, Yvonne Gamble. An FBI spokesperson confirmed that the agency conducted “court-authorized law enforcement activity in Rolling Meadows” on Saturday. 

The Center for COVID Control has the same registered address as a laboratory called Doctors Clinical Laboratory, which conducted hundreds of thousands of PCR tests using specimens collected by the pop-up testing company, a company spokesperson said.  

Both the pop-up testing company and the lab have been under investigation by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as well as multiple state attorneys general.

NM: People Line Up For Free COVID-19 Testing Amid Omicron Variant Surge
People stand in line Jan. 3 for free Covid-19 testing at a temporary site set up by the Center for COVID Control in Santa Fe, N.M.Sam Wasson / Sipa USA via AP

The company has billed the federal government more than $120 million for testing uninsured people, according to federal records.A spokesperson for the Center for COVID Control did not respond to a request for comment about the search, which was first reported by USA Today. Emails and phone messages left at Doctors Clinical Laboratory were not returned.

In multiple public documents, the two companies have listed the same address at 1685 Winnetka Cir, Rolling Meadows, IL 60008. The Center for COVID Control’s spokesperson has previously said that the companies are separate entities and that there is “no cross-ownership.”  

A spokesperson for the Illinois attorney general confirmed that the office is working with federal law enforcement agencies. 

“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,” the spokesperson said. 

In light of growing complaints, the Center for COVID Control paused its business activities Jan. 13. It was scheduled to reopen some sites around the country on Saturday, the day of the search.

The Center for COVID Control’s CEO, Aleya Siyaj, 29, and her husband, Ali Syed, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Siyaj and Syed’s previous businesses included a donut shop and an ax throwing business.

The investigations were launched after the company drew dozens of consumer complaints from late test results to concerns that no tests were being conducted at all.

Ryan Jacobson, a lawyer with the firm Smith Amundsen, which the Center for COVID Control hired to review its business practices, said in a statement last week about the investigations, “We are working closely with authorities to provide information and shed light on the operational challenges [Center for COVID Control] experienced at the height of the Omicron surge, which no doubt contributed to consumer complaints and public scrutiny.”

The pop-up testing company grew quickly last fall and swiftly expanded to 300 sites nationwide.  

The lab and the Center for COVID Control have been under investigation by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services since late November, when an inspection revealed widespread violations, including a failure to label specimens.

The Illinois, Colorado, Minnesota and Oregon attorneys general have all announced investigations. The Massachusetts attorney general is reviewing complaints.