Are Fake COVID Testing Sites Harvesting Data?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen a bunch of writing about what seems to be fake COVID-19 testing sites. They take your name and info, and do a nose swab, but you never get test results. Speculation centered around data harvesting, but that didn’t make sense because it was far too labor intensive for that and — sorry to break it to you — your data isn’t worth all that much.

It seems to be multilevel marketing fraud instead:

The Center for COVID Control is a management company to Doctors Clinical Laboratory. It provides tests and testing supplies, software, personal protective equipment and marketing services — online and printed — to testing sites, said a person who was formerly associated with the Center for COVID Control. Some of the sites are owned independently but operate in partnership with the chain under its name and with its guidance.

[…]

Doctors Clinical Lab, the lab Center for COVID Control uses to process tests, makes money by billing patients’ insurance companies or seeking reimbursement from the federal government for testing. Insurance statements reviewed by Block Club show the lab has, in multiple instances, billed insurance companies $325 for a PCR test, $50 for a rapid test, $50 for collecting a person’s sample and $80 for a “supplemental fee.”

In turn, the testing sites are paid for providing samples to the lab to be processed, said a person formerly associated with the Center for COVID Control.

In a January video talking to testing site operators, Syed said the Center for COVID Control will no longer provide them with PCR tests, but it will continue supplying them with rapid tests at a cost of $5 per test. The companies will keep making money for the rapid tests they collect, he said.

“You guys will continue making the $28.50 you’re making for the rapid test,” Syed said in the video.

Read the article for the messy details. Or take a job and see for yourself.

EDITED TO ADD (2/13): More coverage about the fake testing sites.

Posted on January 19, 2022 at 6:10 AM14 Comments

Comments

Henry January 19, 2022 6:36 AM

My data is worth as much as all Identity Fraudsters can reap.
In Germany, you need to detail names, full residential address, birth date, e-mail address and phone. More often than not, a signature is required as well.
There are dozens of quick test sites in the smallest of villages, some run by folks that went broke in recent lockdowns.

Karl Zander January 19, 2022 10:19 AM

At the beginning of COVID, I believe it was in March, I felt like I had Sars-Cov-2. My symptoms were about a week and a half of extreme fatigue, I was also drinking a lot during that time and I was an avid drinker, however, I could tell the fatigue was present. My test in Lacey, Washington was negative. I purchased groceries today and the price was $29.03.

jimbo January 19, 2022 1:04 PM

@Karl Zander
I was also drinking a lot during that time and I was an avid drinker

I hope that was water and not beer for example:-P

jimbo January 19, 2022 1:10 PM

I also went to a COVID test here in Florida some days ago. Mainly because of having a sore throat for a week and was concerned. The test was self-administered; some lady in a booth handed me a swab and told me to rotate it in each nostril for 15 seconds and then place it in a plastic vial.

The results came two days later and were negative. I still have the sore throat though.

But in retrospect I have been wondering if the test was done properly. The lady told me that I did not have to push the swab tip very far, that rotating it inside near the brim was sufficient. Not sure if it caught anything as I did not have a runny nose.

So maybe it was one of those joke sites Bruce’s post is about. I may have to go to another test somewhere else if this gets any worse.

Ted January 19, 2022 1:19 PM

True it makes sense that they probably weren’t well organized enough to have the sole intent of profiteering off data harvesting. For god sakes Syed and Siyaj couldn’t even stay under the radar long enough enjoy more than a year of “covid money” and their plunder of ostentatious sports cars.

Also, it isn’t a great sign that Syed was trying to recruit people on Facebook with an employee’s claim that he’s made $1.45 million after being with the company four months.

Still even if the company did not have a premeditated intent to illegally harvest data, they could still end up getting quick-sanded by regulators due to among many things their data management practices. I can’t imagine they had even close to good HIPAA implementations.

Having a background in running axe-throwing lounges apparently did not cut the mustard in qualifying them to run a critically important – and in some cases a life or death – operation.

coronavirus scam January 19, 2022 2:00 PM

The Coronavirus is real and vaccines and masks help contain spread. Those truths, however, have been used to justify one of the greatest scams in human history, a marked redistribution of wealth to the rich, an increase in centralised control, and huge improvements in propaganda techniques.

It is as the world decided in one collective fit of madness to bow down and worship PT Barnum as a god. These jokers are small fry. Fauci, Yellen, and Damon should all be condemned for treason.

moz January 19, 2022 3:07 PM

@Jimbo

There have been a bunch of scientists saying that tests which do throat and nose are better for Omicron which infects mainly the throat. Unfortunately there are tests which are designed for the nose only. The ones I’ve seen are meant to go almost an inch into the nose so the rim doesn’t sound great.

moz January 19, 2022 3:09 PM

@moderator

Could we ditch the “coronavirus scam” post? I don’t really see it’s adding to the debate.

SpaceLifeForm January 19, 2022 3:57 PM

@ jimbo, moz

Yes, jimbo, moz is correct. It sure sounds like you got Omicron.

But, moz, the reason it is important, is because these fake testing operations exist for two reasons. Not just collecting PII, but also telling people that they tested negative. Some never heard about the results of their test. Because there was no test really performed.

There are pics of the test kits (LFT), just thrown on the ground at these fake test sites.

Clive Robinson January 19, 2022 7:25 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

There are pics of the test kits (LFT), just thrown on the ground at these fake test sites.

Used or unused?

They could be a serious health hazard…

We know from information on limited fomite testing, Omicron on surfaces around 25 centigrade has a half life of a little over six minutes so quite a bit longer in the cold outside. But there are other nasties out there as well that could be on those swabs like TB for instance…

I think such behaviour would be considered legaly as “reckless” if not worse…

Sadly gone are the days when the Red Queen used to shout “Off with their heads” and get prompt action lest others pawns in the game got their collars a close shave.

Robin January 20, 2022 2:02 AM

A pharmacist in France (a pharmacist for goodness sake!) has just been busted for doing fictional tests. 18 million euros’ worth. He billed the state to make the money, but a suspicious doctor blew the whistle.

He might have got away with it if he had kept to a smaller scale. I’m sure he’s not alone.

Source (in French): https://www.ouest-france.fr/sante/virus/coronavirus/covid-19-un-pharmacien-parisien-soupconne-d-avoir-facture-des-tests-fictifs-b98ef346-7907-11ec-9d21-e721da20c99f

SpaceLifeForm January 20, 2022 4:40 PM

More coverage

My bold.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2022/01/covid-testing-firm-piled-unprocessed-swabs-in-trash-bags-billed-feds-113m/

For instance, one consumer complained to Minnesota’s health department that they had gone to one of the testing sites and filled out the online form to get tested but then left before actually taking a test because the line was too long. Nevertheless, the person received test results later that night saying the rapid antigen test (which was never taken) was negative. Others said they somehow received results for multiple tests, even though they had only been tested once. In all of the instances noted in the lawsuit, the phony results were always negative.

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