Co-Owner of Chicago COVID Testing Company Defrauded Government of $83M, Used Funds to Buy Luxury Cars

In Feb. 2022, federal agents were seen investigating LabElite’s Northwest Side testing location, and the company told NBC 5 it was cooperating with an investigation from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Zishan Alvi, the co-owner of a Chicago laboratory company that operated COVID-19 testing sites during the pandemic, is facing federal charges for a scheme in which he took $83 million in government subsidies, directed employees to give patients false test results and submit claims for tests that hadn’t been performed as well as using the proceeds to buy luxury vehicles and make investments.

Alvi, the owner of LabElite, was indicted by a grand jury Friday on 10 counts of wire fraud and one count of stealing government funds, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois. Alvi is accused of participating in a scheme in which he caused the company to obtain funds from the federal government’s Health Resources and Services Administration insurance program by submitting fraudulent claims, including for COVID tests that had not been performed, tests that clients had paid for and ones that were modified, making the results “unreliable,” federal prosecutors state.

The indictment doesn’t name the lab responsible for the testing sites, only referring to it as “Laboratory A.”

Additionally, to conceal that tests hadn’t been done, Alvi is believed to have instructed employees to release negative test results to patients, documents revealed. To reduce costs and increase profits, the laboratory co-owner is also accused of directing employees to alter the lab’s PCR testing method by using less of the materials necessary to process the tests, leading to unreliable results, according to prosecutors.

Furthermore, as part of the scheme, federal prosecutors allege Alvi transferred fraudulently-obtained funds from a laboratory account to a personal account and used the funds to purchase vehicles and invest in stocks and cryptocurrency.

In Feb. 2022, federal agents were seen investigating LabElite’s Northwest Side testing location, and the company told NBC 5 it was cooperating with an investigation from the U.S. Attorney’s office. At the time, a spokesperson for the FBI confirmed the agency was “conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity in that vicinity,” but declined to offer specifics on why.

LabElite isn’t the only COVID testing company that has been investigated in Illinois.

Also in early 2022, federal agents executed a search warrant at the Rolling Meadows headquarters for the Center for COVID Control, which operates pop-up COVID testing sites around the country, according to a spokesperson for the Health and Human Services Inspector General.

NBC 5 reached out to LabElite Monday regarding the charges brought against Alvi, but has yet to receive a response. If convicted of the charges, Alvi will be required to forfeit more than $8 million along with five vehicles: a Mercedes-Benz, a Land Rover, a Lamborghini, a Bentley and a Tesla.