December 2, 2023

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Utah woman sold travelers fake COVID-19 test results at Salt Lake City airport, charges say

The woman worked at XpresCheck at the Salt Lake City International Airport, court records state.

(Rachel Rydalch | The Salt Lake Tribune) A man uses the moving walkway at the Salt Lake International Airport on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022. A Utah woman is facing federal charges after allegedly selling Salt Lake City International Airport travelers falsified COVID-19 tests.

A woman who worked at a coronavirus travel testing site at the Salt Lake City International Airport has been charged in federal court after she allegedly sold falsified negative COVID-19 tests and pocketed the money for herself.

Documents filed last week say the 28-year-old woman worked for XpresCheck at the airport, serving travelers bound for destinations such as or Hawaii or Israel that required proof of a negative coronavirus test before departure.

Federal prosecutors allege that the woman, beginning in July 2021, intercepted XpresCheck customers who were calling to schedule their coronavirus travel test. She would then cancel callers’ appointments and tell them they only needed a letter from XpresCheck — not a test, charging documents state.

Next, she would sell those travelers counterfeit negative COVID-19 test results for around $200 to $250 and have people send the money to her or her husband via a phone app, the documents allege.

In July 2021, the delta variant was on the rise in Utah. The state reported a 7-day average of about 400 new cases at the beginning of that month. By the end of July, that average jumped to about 835 — the highest figure seen in months at the time.

Prosecutors say the woman’s alleged scheme went on through at least September 2021.

She faces one count of wire fraud. Her first court date is scheduled for May 10, court records indicate.

XpresCheck didn’t exist in Salt Lake City’s airport until about January 2021, when it opened as a pop-up inside the existing XpresSpa, where travelers could book massages and nail care appointments, according to a 2021 news release from the company.

The airport doesn’t have oversight over its “concession employees,” including XpresSpa, airport spokesperson Nancy Volmer said Friday. She declined to comment on the case.

An XpresCheck spokesperson said the company terminated the woman and had her arrested once they uncovered her alleged scheme. The business then updated its protocols to ensure this would not happen again.

XpresCheck’s Salt Lake City location had the capacity to administer 300 COVID-19 tests a day, the 2021 release said.

“Given the rising number of COVID-19 cases around the country,” XpresSpa CEO Doug Satzman said at the time, “we believe providing this added layer of safety and comfort will be beneficial to passengers and airline employees alike as demand for travel continues to increase.”

The woman’s case was part of a coordinated effort to combat health care-related COVID-19 fraud across the country, according to the Department of Justice. Twenty other defendants throughout the U.S. are facing charges in connection to the DOJ effort.