Defending Against Lab Fraud Allegations Related to COVID-19 Testing
As laboratory tests for COVID-19 and its antibodies gain more widespread distribution, labs are racing to get testing kits to market and fulfill the enormous demand for testing. While these tests are absolutely essential to flattening the curve and restoring normal life in America, federal authorities are also being extremely cautious to ensure that faulty tests do not put individuals – and the population at large – at risk unnecessarily.
In particular, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) are working in concert to combat COVID-19 testing fraud. These agencies are also leveraging the resources of local and state law enforcement authorities to identify fraud schemes and fraudulent practices so that they can prosecute offending labs at the federal level.
Is Your Lab Under Investigation for COVID-19 Testing Fraud?
Due to the importance of getting effective COVID-19 and antibody tests to market as quickly as possible, the FBI, FDA, and DOJ are closely monitoring the market for attempts to improperly take advantage of the current crisis. Unfortunately, while many labs are doing good – and extremely important – work, there have already been several instances of labs and other companies selling unauthorized tests and engaging in other fraudulent practices.
Federal agents are actively scouring the market for all forms of COVID-19 lab testing fraud. These efforts include everything from inspecting labs and other facilities in person to monitoring online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon. When they find evidence that unauthorized tests are being sold or that labs are otherwise engaging in unlawful conduct, they are taking swift and aggressive action to shut these operations down.
Specifically, federal authorities are looking for evidence of fraudulent practices including:
- Collecting payment for testing kits that are not delivered
- Collecting payment for tests and then not providing results
- Fraudulently billing Medicare, Medicaid, and other benefit programs for COVID-19 testing
- Making false or misleading statements about tests’ authorization, accuracy, or reliability
- Making false or misleading statements in order to secure contracts for COVID-19 testing kits
- Hoarding and price gouging COVID-19 testing kits
- Selling fraudulent COVID-19 at-home testing kits
- Selling or using unauthorized COVID-19 testing kits
- Unlawfully importing COVID-19 testing kits that are not authorized for use in the U.S.
While most investigations targeting legitimate testing laboratories are likely to be civil in nature, each of the types of fraud listed above also has the potential to lead to criminal prosecution. In civil cases, penalties can include fines, recoupments, and loss of federal program eligibility. In criminal cases, laboratory owners can face personal fines and the potential for several years of federal imprisonment.
At Oberheiden P.C., we are actively defending laboratories and lab owners accused of COVID-19 testing fraud during the novel coronavirus pandemic. As a healthcare compliance and defense law firm, we have vast experience representing lab clients in a broad range of scenarios. Our lab defense attorneys, many of whom are former healthcare fraud prosecutors, have extensive experience in lab fraud investigations, and we have an extensive track record of protecting the vast majority of our clients before charges get filed. We also work with expert federal consultants around the country—including former senior FBI agents and a former Director of Compliance at the FDA.
Have you been contacted by agents from the FBI, FDA, or DOJ? If so, you need to engage experienced defense counsel immediately. To speak with a senior attorney at Oberheiden P.C. in confidence, call 888-680-1745 or contact us online now. We are available 24/7.