COVID-19 testing sites under investigation after complaints allege 'fake tests'

The Better Business Bureau is investigating a COVID-19 testing company that is being inundated with negative reviews and complaints. The Center for Covid Control operates sites nationwide, including in Washington and Oregon.

Some of the complaints on the BBB's website accuse the company of scamming customers. Many of them say they've not received test results.

In Seattle's International District, the words "FAKE TESTS" were spray-painted on the outside of a pop-up "Center for Covid Control" testing site.

It's just one of nearly a dozen testing sites in Washington state and 300 in the country operated by the Illinois-based company.

The company is apparently not affiliated with King County Department of Health of the Washington State Department of Health.

Now, there are allegations of fake tests across the country including people who say they received their test results before they were even tested.

The Washington State Attorney General's Office told FOX 13 News that it has received two consumer complaints about the test sites.

The BBB has also received two from the Seattle area, saying in a statement: "The BBB is actively monitoring the reports of COVID-19 testing sites that have recently opened in the U.S. under different names."

At another site in Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood, FOX 13 tried to set up a test. The system asks for a variety of personal information including photos of your driver's license or ID card and your insurance information. A screen during the signup process also requires you to waive your rights regarding protecting your health information under HIPAA laws.

FOX 13 News has twice reached out to the Center for Covid Control for a response, but we have not heard back.

RELATED: How to find at-home COVID-19 tests: Websites track availability as demand surges

Complaints across America

In Oregon, one family raised a red flag about a testing site in the Portland area. They told KOIN-TV that the whole experience "seemed a bit sketchy." They said they were told to put their PCR tests into a bin that resembled a garbage bin. Their tests came back negative except for one that never returned a result. To be safe, they were tested again and found out that they were positive.

Another family in Florida told WINK-TV that they received their test results will still waiting in line to be tested.

KOIN also reports that the Department of Justice has opened a civil investigation into the company.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General said there has been an increase in COVID-19 fraud complaints including many related to testing.

"We are seeing fraudulent activity around testing. It could be random pop-up sites, and it could be at-home test kits," Yvonne Gamble, the office’s acting director of communications, told USA Today. "Be vigilant. Be careful. Be mindful, and make sure whoever you are dealing with is an authorized provider and a place that you can trust."

The FBI has also warned of emerging schemes:

"Beware of individuals who contact you in person, by phone, or by email to tell you the government or government officials require you to take a COVID-19 test. These scammers will likely ask for your health insurance information, including your Medicare or Medicaid number, and other personal information. Prior health care fraud investigations have shown that once scammers obtain an individual’s personal information, they use it to bill federal health care programs and/or private health insurance plans for tests and procedures the individual did not receive and pocket the proceeds. Be cautious of any unsolicited offers that require or request your medical insurance information.

"Also beware of individuals offering to sell you a COVID-19 test kit or supplies, especially when these contacts are unexpected. A physician or other trusted health care provider should assess your condition and approve any requests for COVID-19 testing. Some scammers are selling fake at-home test kits; some are even going door-to-door and performing fake tests for money. Legitimate tests are offered free to patients when administered by a health care professional."

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