A California company agreed to pay $22 million in fines after claiming to provide COVID test results within 24 hours and then allegedly falsifying results to meet demand according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday.
Sameday Health, operated by Sameday Technologies, boasts 55 testing centers across the country after setting up shop in September 2020. For $195 they promised consumers that they would provide test results within 24 hours, a claim Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón argued was entirely impossible.
According to the complaint filed by Feuer and Gascón, Sameday’s “promise was false- Sameday could not guarantee a 24-hour turnaround time” as lab contracts “expressly stated that they could not deliver results that quickly. In fact, out of more than 500 test results “confirmed or suspected to be faked, falsified, or forged,” many results were provided before the outside labs had even received the test to analyze.
Attorneys allege this process was handled at the direction of Sameday chief executive Felix Huettenbach in order to satisfy customers who complained of delays in test results.
“It’s beyond outrageous that anyone would falsify COVID tests,” Feuer said in a statement obtained by the LA Times, “as we allege happened here. If you get a negative test, you assume it’s safe to go to work, visit family and friends, or take a vacation. But the victims of this alleged scheme might unknowingly have spread COVID to others or failed to receive timely and appropriate care themselves.”
I just got over COVID myself and know how essential it is to have accurate test results. This landmark resolution will stop this alleged scheme, give restitution to consumers and insurers, and impose severe penalties.https://t.co/WQOgd4E1Os
— Mike Feuer (@Mike_Feuer) April 22, 2022
“I just got over COVID myself and know how essential it is to have accurate test results. This landmark resolution will stop this alleged scheme, give restitution to consumers and insurers, and impose sever penalties,” the city attorney wrote on Twitter.
The settlement agreed to by Sameday Health included $13 million to the city and county of Los Angeles toward enforcement of consumer protection laws and around $9.6 million as restitution for consumers impacted by the alleged scheme.
FOX 11 shared the response to the settlement where Sameday acknowledged they were founded in “an effort to make fast, reliable, COVID testing available to everyone. In the early days, amidst the chaos of massive surges in demand for services, and shortages in supplies, we failed to meet the standards for excellence our customers deserve.”
“We have corrected the problems that arose back in 2020 and have made significant investments in compliance and systems to ensure that we meet our customers’ expectations. We agreed to settle with the City Attorney and the LA District Attorney in order to move forward and to allow the 1,200 men and women of Sameday to place their focus on providing top-level service to the communities we serve,” the statement added.
However, the allegations were not limited to the falsified test results as the complaint also included accusations directed at Dr. Jeff Toll for partnering with Sameday to provide consultations deemed unnecessary in the filing. Toll, according to the Daily Mail, reportedly charged $400 to insurance companies for the approximately three minute phone calls and then provided a “kickback” to Sameday for the partnership.
Toll settled for approximately $3.9 million which included $1.15 million in civil penalties and $2.8 million in restitution, a decision he said was “because it would have cost more to contest the allegations and win at trial.”
“Contrary to story [sic] in the LA Times,” Toll wrote in part, “there was absolutely no admission of any wrongdoing in the settlement. For the City to insinuate otherwise in its statement is false.”
Gascón also issued a statement on the complaint, “My office is dedicated to protecting the people of Los Angeles County from dangerous and costly scams like these and seeking appropriate action against those who take advantage of consumers through fraudulent business practices. It is not only illegal but also unconscionable to defraud people seeking medical assistance in the midst of a public health crisis. We will continue to work to bring justice to victims of all crimes, including fraud.”
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