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March 17, 2023
Health Law Weekly

Lab Owner Indicted for COVID-19 Testing Fraud Scheme

  • March 17, 2023

A federal grand jury indicted Zishan Alvi on ten counts of wire fraud and one count of theft of government funds for allegedly submitting fraudulent reimbursement claims for COVID-19 tests that were never performed, were performed improperly, or were already paid for, Morris Pasqual, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, announced March 13.

According to a press release, Alvi owned and operated Laboratory A, which purported to perform testing to detect SARS-CoV-2. During the Public Health Emergency, Laboratory A enrolled in the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA’s) Uninsured Program. During its operation, Laboratory A obtained over $83 million from the program as payment for COVID-19 tests it purportedly performed.

The indictment alleges that from approximately February 2021 through February 2022, Alvi, along with others, knowingly devised and participated in a scheme to defraud the government by causing Laboratory A to submit fraudulent claims and deliver inaccurate and unreliable test results to the public.  

According to the release, the fraudulent claims sought reimbursement for tests where Alvi knew that (a) Laboratory A had not performed a test for COVID-19; (b) Laboratory A had modified a test for COVID-19 such that the results were unreliable; and (c) Laboratory A already had collected payment from the individuals who purportedly had been tested.

Specifically, the indictment alleges that Alvi caused Laboratory A to provide negative test results to be released to individuals who had provided a specimen for testing, but for whom a COVID-19 test had not been performed, and directed Laboratory A employees to alter their PCR testing method by using less of the materials necessary to process the test, including the reagents, knowing that this made the test results unreliable.

An indictment contains allegations only and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.