The FBI has searched the headquarters of a suburban Chicago-based COVID-19 testing company at the center of a state investigation.
A spokesperson for the Health and Human Services Inspector General told NBC News on Monday that federal agents had executed a search warrant at the Rolling Meadows headquarters for the Center for COVID Control, which operates pop-up COVID testing sites around the country.
The FBI spokesperson confirmed to NBC News that the agency conducted “court -authorized law enforcement activity in Rolling Meadows” on Saturday.
One day earlier, the Illinois Attorney General’s office said the company would not be reopening for the “foreseeable future” as the office continues to investigate complaints.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said the Center for COVID Control, which had already voluntarily suspended operations during the investigation, agreed to “postpone the reopening of any pop-up testing locations in Illinois for the foreseeable future.”
“Although the company voluntarily suspended operations, my office contacted company officials to demand that the Center for COVID Control immediately stop engaging in any fraudulent or deceptive conduct, particularly with respect to the delivery of testing results or billing,” Raoul said in a statement. “In addition to evaluating residents’ complaints, attorneys from my Consumer Fraud Division interviewed former employees of the Center for COVID Control.”
Center for COVID Control did not respond to NBC 5’s request for comment at that time.
The company has 320 testing locations in 22 states, including many in the Chicago area, and is based in Rolling Meadows, according to its state license.
Raoul’s office told NBC 5 Responds earlier this month that it had opened an investigation into the company and its operations.
“I opened an investigation into the Center for COVID Control in response to our residents contacting my office to report a number of concerning issues at the Center for COVID Control’s pop-up COVID-19 testing locations throughout Illinois,” he said in a statement Friday. “Complaints have ranged from testing results being delayed or not received at all, to results being provided to individuals who were never administered a test, to tests being stored improperly, and staff incorrectly using PPE and face masks.”
For weeks, complaints ranging from results gone missing to results that are completely inaccurate have led some states to launch formal inquiries amidst calls for greater transparency on how the business operates.
Those complaints led to the company’s CEO Aleya Siyaj acknowledging some of the company’s missteps when it announced a one-week pause of operations to provide additional staff training and education.
“Center for Covid Control is committed to serving our patients in the safest, most accurate and most compliant manner,” Siyaj said in a news release. “Regrettably, due to our rapid growth and the unprecedented recent demand for testing, we haven’t been able to meet all our commitments.”
The company said it would stop collecting test specimens starting on Jan. 14 but had planned to reopen on Jan. 22, 2022.
“We’ve made this difficult decision to temporarily pause all operations, until we are confident that all collection sites are meeting our high standards for quality,” Siyaj said earlier this month.
Several states have announced formal investigations into the company.
The Minnesota AG’s office filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the testing company and its lab, Doctors Clinical Laboratory, accusing the companies of fraud, deception and false advertising.
Chicago’s Better Business Bureau said it has been actively looking into an influx of complaints about the company – ranging from missing test results, to staff asking for too much information.
“The company has been unresponsive to the BBB inquiring about the complaints,” said BBB spokesperson Thomas Johnson. “Center for Covid Control has the lowest grade the BBB gives,” an F-rating.
In addition to Illinois, state Attorney General’s offices in Oregon and Massachusetts, as well as the California Department of Public Health, have said they are looking into the company’s operations this week after receiving consumer complaints.
Center for COVID Control did not respond to NBC 5’s inquiries about specific consumer complaints and a spokesperson for the company and Doctors Clinical Laboratory did not respond to requests for comment on the Minnesota lawsuit.
As if COVID-19 hasn’t brought enough problems already, with the recent omicron surge comes a new dilemma: concerns surround certain pop-up testing sites. NBC 5 Responds’ Lisa Parker reports.
Last month, the company told NBC 5’s Vi Nguyen that as the demand for COVID-19 tests has increased, so have complaints from the public to local health departments, leading to government entities getting in the way of its testing efforts.
“We’re constantly fighting the government entities that should be helping us but rather, they make our life a lot more difficult than it needs to be,” said owner Ali Syed.