Inside Wisconsin’s investigation of ‘Center for COVID Control’
It resulted in a $22,500 fine over misleading ads.
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A coronavirus testing center scrutinized nationwide for its testing practices has paid a $22,500 fine in Dane County, a state official said Tuesday.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) launched an investigation into the Center for COVID Control (CCC) months ago, receiving more than two dozen complaints about the company, Michael Domke said.
Domke is the director of DATCP’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We consider this matter resolved and closed,” he said.
The settlement was over CCC’s misleading advertisements, DATCP announced last week. While operating in 25 sites around Wisconsin, six of them in Dane County, CCC advertised free PCR tests and test results within 2 days. Investigators found the promise was not delivered in time.
“The information received was that they did not intend to mislead or deceive. I believe that what happened was they weren’t prepared for the volume that they received,” Domke said.
DATCP’s investigation looked into CCC operations during a 14-month period from December 2, 2020 until January 21, 2022.
“It was a time where there was a lot of emotion and human investment involved in it,” Domke said. “Getting to the point where you weren’t able to provide what you were promoting, it’s unacceptable, and I’m glad that we were able to actually hold them accountable for that.”
As NBC15 previously reported, consumers reported other concerns about the company to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Complaints ranged from the company not responding to them to the company providing incorrect test results and asking for driver’s license information.
Investigators did not find any proof of identity theft, Domke said. But he added, “They still have that information, so anything could happen in the future.”
CCC could not be reached for comment Tuesday, and its social media was scrubbed. Twitter even said the account was suspended for violating its rules, though the platform did not specify why.
“I have no idea what they’re doing now. As far as I know, they’ve stopped testing in this capacity. They’ve certainly stopped testing in Wisconsin,” Domke said.
He said DATCP did not look into other complaints reported to the BBB, including poor customer service, and that those topics would have been referred to the Department of Health Services (DHS). NBC15 reached out to DHS for comment late Tuesday afternoon and is waiting to hear back.
Other states have also taken action against CCC. In April, the attorney general of Oregon filed a lawsuit against CCC for “deceptively marketing testing services.”
In Illinois, the attorney general said the CCC will not reopen in the state for “the foreseeable future.”
“My office contacted company officials to demand that the Center for COVID Control immediately stop engaging in any fraudulent or deceptive conduct, particularly with respect to the delivery of testing results or billing,” a January statement from the attorney general read.
His office told NBC15 they did not have an update to share.
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