CHICAGO — A man from the Northwest suburbs has been indicted by a federal grand jury after allegedly submitting fraudulent claims to be reimbursed for COVID-19 tests, some of which never happened.
Eleven counts are included in the indictment, including ten counts of wire fraud and one count of theft of government funds.
According to a press release from the US Department of Justice, Zishan Alvi, a 44-year-old man from Inverness, co-owned and operated a lab based in Chicago that allegedly performed PCR and antigen tests to detect the COVID-19 variant SARS-CoV-2, while also offering a service where individuals and companies could pay a fee to receive COVID-19 PCR test results in an expedited fashion.
However — from around Feb. 2021 through Feb. 2022 — the indictment alleges Alvi along with others, knowingly and intentionally devised a scheme to defraud the government by causing the lab to submit fraudulent claims and deliver inaccurate and unreliable test results to the public.
Government officials said the fraudulent claims sought reimbursement (of which the lab received more than $83 million) for the purported tests when Alvi knew that the lab had not performed a test for COVID-19, modified a COVID-19 test result, and/or already collected payment from individuals who said they had been tested.
“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” said Acting U.S. Attorney Morris Pasqual. “I commend the work of our law enforcement partners who investigated this complex fraud scheme. Our office will relentlessly continue to bring to justice those who defrauded the government’s pandemic relief initiatives.”
If convicted, Alvi faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each count of wire fraud, and up to 10 years in federal prison for the count of theft of government property.