By Kati Weis

DENVER (CBS4) – A federal agency and attorneys general in multiple states are investigating alleged fraud of a COVID-19 testing company – The Center for Covid Control – which has three locations in Denver. The company’s lab, Doctors Clinical Lab, which has the same registered principal address as the Center for Covid Control, has received $115 million in federal tax dollar reimbursements, according to government data, for allegedly unsafe and unreliable testing.

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is now investigating, saying it’s “aware of several alleged instances of misconduct by this company’s labs.”

An employee for one of the Denver Center for Covid Control testing locations, who didn’t want to speak on camera for fear of retaliation, tells CBS4 Investigates the company used outdated tests on some patients, some tests as old as eight months.

Colorado State Senator Julie Gonzales (D-Denver) worries the company got rich at the expense of putting the public at risk.

“We’ve got to make sure these unscrupulous companies who are taking advantage of people in their most difficult moments are held accountable,” Gonzales said.

She reported constituent concerns about The Center for Covid Control to Attorney General Phil Weiser earlier this month. His office investigated and issued a cease and desist letter last Friday, saying the company’s Denver locations were not certified with the federal government, and that his office had received several reports of inadequate safety precautions.

“I’m just so glad the attorney general took action so quickly,” Gonzales said.

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Christina Weber, 31, of Minneapolis, saw those concerns for herself when she went to one of the company’s locations in Minnesota in late December. Because she was feeling symptoms, she wanted a test fast, so she did a quick Google search and the Center was one of the first results.

“When I got into the testing site, I noticed it was a small room and the chairs that were lined up where everyone was going to be sitting in waiting to be tested, they were extremely close together, definitely not six feet apart and even the person sitting next to me was not wearing a mask and it wasn’t enforced,” Weber recalled. “And even after testing, they didn’t sanitize the station. So I mean, the person in front of me did their swab, put the test in the bin and walked out, and then I went, did my swab, and put it in the bin… it just was really unsanitary.”

When she didn’t get her rapid test results for several days, she tried to call the company, but got a voicemail box that hadn’t been set up yet. So she turned to the company’s social media.

“I had just written on some of the photos that they had… I’d written ‘scam, I haven’t gotten my results,’ just trying to get somebody to acknowledge me, and sure enough, within 10 minutes after me commenting on their Instagram, they had sent me my results, and I was negative according to my results,” Weber said.

But not long after taking her test at The Center for Covid Control, she got a second test somewhere else just to be safe. Those results came back positive.

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“I was really angry,” she said. “Also concerned, because I was worried that they’re they’re sending out false negatives to people that actually our could potentially be positive. And it’s just going to be a domino effect. So getting others sick, and potentially putting people in hospitals, and leading to somebody dying from COVID-19.”

She filed a complaint with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office and with the Better Business Bureau, which has also received dozens of complaints.

Public records show the owner of The Center for Covid Control, Aleya Siyaj, used to own an axe-throwing business.

“That just amazes me,” Weber said.

The Center was started in Illinois and grew rapidly, with 300 locations in several states.

The Colorado Attorney General has temporarily shut down the Denver locations, and the Center has until Friday to respond to the AG’s office.

CBS4 Investigates reached out to The Center for Covid Control for a comment, but has not heard back. The company issued a written statement that says in part: “Center for Covid Control is committed to serving our patients in the safest, most accurate and most compliant manner. Regrettably, due to our rapid growth and the unprecedented recent demand for testing, we haven’t been able to meet all our commitments.”

To read the company’s full statement, click here.

Kati Weis