Owner of National COVID Testing Company Indicted on Federal Criminal Charges

A Chicago man has been slapped with a federal indictment on allegations he frauded a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agency out of more than $83 million with bogus or nonexistent COVID tests.

The indictment against Zishan Alvi, owner of LabElite, was handed down on March 8. It was obtained by the Northern Illinois U.S. Department of Justice.

In it, Alvi is alleged to have devised a scheme to submit claims for PCR tests never performed for reimbursement under multiple federal programs set to pay for COVID-19 testing not covered under health insurance, including the Democrat’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

According to the indictment, his company often provided COVID test results to customers for tests never conducted.

“The charges in this case allege that the defendant disregarded public health concerns in favor of personal financial gain. Doing so by compromising taxpayer-funded programs intended to fight the spread of coronavirus was particularly reprehensible” acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Morris Pasqual said in a statement on the charges against Zishan.

The Epoch Times attempted to reach Alvi for comment. His company left a message on its phone that it is closed.

LabElite is one of several companies that partner with hundreds of pop-up COVID testing sites across the United States.

The indictment (pdf) did not name LabElite as the lab responsible for the botched testing. It is among a string of Chicago-based COVID testing labs that have been under investigation in the past year by various government agencies for their handling of COVID test results.

Massachusetts, Nevada, Washington, Minnesota, California, are among more than a dozen states that have found the companies to either be mislabeling tests, not following proper testing procedures, or collecting money and never providing results to the customers who paid for them.

Alvi is the first owner of COVID testing labs with questionable practices to be criminally charged.

In addition to submitting for reimbursement for tests that were never taken, Alvi is accused of ordering his labs to cut corners and skip testing standards.

According to the indictment against him, an investigation found that his practices often led to providing customers with incorrect test results.

Court records show that Alvi submitted fraudulent claims for reimbursement of COVID tests never conducted to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a HHS agency, charged with administering the funds under the various federal COVID reimbursement programs.

According to the indictment, Alvi also received monies from the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act,” the
“Paycheck Protection Program,” and “Health Care Enhancement Act.”

The programs were created under Biden’s 2021 $160 million COVID funding initiative called the “American Rescue Plan.”

“It is absolutely reprehensible that the defendant would use a public health crisis to allegedly defraud taxpayers and further put public health at risk by providing fraudulent COVID-19 test results,” Attorney General Kwame Raoul said in a statement he released in response to Alvi’s indictment.

Lucrative COVID Black Market

A review of past and on-going investigation into COVID tests show that a lucrative black market was born out of the government reimbursement program nearly since its inception.

Akbar Ali Syed and his wife Aleya Siyaj, the listed owners of the Center for COVID Control, which has shut down amidst a federal investigation into its operations, touted a million dollar mansion and several luxury cars on their TikTok before their account disappeared, according to a USA Today report.

The Epoch Times was unable to reach Syed and Siyaj.

According to CDC records, Northshore Clinical Labs, another Chicago-based testing company under a federal investigation, received more than $160 million worth in federal reimbursement money for its COVID testing operations before having to shut down its operations.

The last listed owners of the company are brothers Hirsh and Gaurav Mohindra and Omar Hussain. The Epoch Times was unable to reach any of the men for comment.

In 2016, Hirsh and Gaurav were named defendants in a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit against a ring accused of shaking down citizens for payments for non-existent debts.

In a settlement with the FTC, the men surrendered $9 million in assets.

In 2019, Hussain was named in a similar FTC suit and later surrendered millions of dollars worth of assets as part of a settlement agreement with the government agency.

In the indictment against Alvi, the federal government’s lists in its forfeiture against him more than $83 million in assets, including a 2021 Bentley, a 2021 Lamborghini, along with other luxury cars, a $6 million bank account, and $800,000 in an E*Trade account.

COVID testing has also led to other schemes.

Last August, the Federal Trade Commission reported that it discovered a scam involving offers of free COVID tests to people on Medicare.

The fraudsters would collect both personal and Medicare information under the scheme and then bill the federally-funded health insurance program for bogus test kits.

In some of the cases, according to the FTC, the scammers would also bill Medicare for other bogus claims through the COVID test scheme.

In just the past year, the FDA has sent more than 20 warning letters to various companies for their promotion of COVID test kits that are not FDA approved.


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