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News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida can help. Our responsibility is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

Oregon sues a COVID test company under scrutiny in Florida and across the country

lab worker with test tubes
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Center for COVID Control, which closed its Florida sites in January after receiving complaints about questionable results, is accused of deceptively marketing testing services and violating Oregon’s Unlawful Trade Practices Act.

A company that operated hundreds of pop-up COVID-19 testing sites across the country, including Florida, is facing new legal trouble.

In a lawsuit, the state of Oregon has accusedthe owners of Illinois-based Center for COVID Control of stealing millions of dollars in federal funds and insurance money in a lawsuit filed Thursday. A lawsuit said the owners boasted about buying a mansion and expensive sports cars.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum sued CCC, and its testing partner, Doctors Clinical Laboratory, for deceptively marketing testing services and for violating Oregon’s Unlawful Trade Practices Act.

The lawsuit says Aleya Siyaj and Akbar Ali Syed, the married couple who own CCC, had no prior experience in the medical field or medical testing and had run an ax throwing lounge and a photography studio.

The lawsuit alleges CCC and Doctors Clinical Laboratory falsely told consumers they could provide accurate PCR COVID-19 results within 72 hours, but instead produced questionable test results and lacked proper capacity to store and process the thousands of test specimens they received each day.

CCC said it operated about 300 testing sites across the country, including dozens in Florida.

CCC's trail of legal woes stretching back several months. In January, people at several Florida locations reported receiving untimely results or none at all. Some were sent results before taking the test.

Similar complaints were made in other states, and the company eventually closed all its sites.

At the time, CCC told WJCT news partner News4Jaxthat increased demand affected its service. The company also said it was responding to questions from several public health and regulatory agencies.

Federal records show the lab has received more than $113 million from the federal government reimbursing them for COVID-19 testing for people without insurance, News4Jax eported.

According to USA Today, CCC was registered in Illinois, Florida and Washington at the end of 2021. In Florida, the company’s registered agent is Fawzia Safdari of Davie.

In January, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody's office issued a warningabout test scams but did not name CCC. The statement cited recent reports of suspicious COVID-19 testing sites popping up in Illinois that "appear legitimate but are designed to steal personal information from unsuspecting test seekers."

The Florida Department of Health, speaking generally, told USA Today that "Floridians are urged to be on the lookout for fraudulent COVID-19 products and practices, especially as it pertains to testing."

In January, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuitaccusing Center for COVID Control of deceptive and fraudulent practices. Also, Washington state sued CCC, accusing it of improperly handling tests and providing fake results.

I’m the online producer for Health News Florida, a collaboration of public radio stations and NPR that delivers news about health care issues.