LOS ANGELES – Continuing to tackle price gouging and consumer scams tied to COVID-19, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced that his office has filed a civil law enforcement action against, and achieved an immediate settlement with, Yikon (pronounced Yee-kon) Genomics Inc., for advertising and selling an at-home test kit for the virus. As a result, Yikon signed a stipulation for entry of judgment agreeing to end its alleged widespread marketing and sales campaign of test kits and providing restitution in the form of full refunds to consumers who purchased them.
“We’re fighting to protect a very anxious public from falling victim to COVID-19 related schemes, including so-called at-home tests that are falsely advertised and should not be used for in-home testing,” said Feuer. “In this crisis, Angelenos’ health depends on accurate, reliable information and legitimate products that can actually help them.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when asked whether there were any “at-home” testing kits available for consumers to test themselves at home for COVID-19, the FDA has consistently answered “the FDA has not authorized any test that is available to purchase for testing yourself at home for COVID-19” on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's online FAQs on Testing for SARS-CoV-2.
Defendants are Yikon Genomics, Inc., a California corporation, and Brandon Richard Hensinger, CEO of Yikon. Our investigation revealed that defendants marketed “at-home” test kits on their website, “thecoronavirustestkit.com,” and across social media platforms. The website allegedly advertised and sold the kits for $39. The defendants claimed that their testing kit “can be used to confidently screen for” the presence of “antibodies in the blood stream, making it possible to detect current or recent viral infections of COVID-19.” Yikon’s Twitter account shared a link to a Wall Street Journal article and misleadingly stated, “Our COVID-19 Test Kit is now FDA Approved.”
This stipulated judgment protects public health by:
(1) immediately ending advertising, marketing, and sales of the “Yikon At-Home Test Kit” and other violations of law; and
(2) providing for full consumer restitution, in the form of refunds, for all test kit purchases.
Under the stipulated judgment, Yikon may only sell COVID-19 test kits for in-home use in California if it receives FDA approval and complies with all rules and regulations governing the sale of medical devices in California.
The City Attorney’s Consumer Protection Team has been reviewing other COVID-19 related scams and working to get voluntary compliance to stop the practices. In the past three weeks, the City Attorney’s Office has successfully halted alleged false advertising and unfair business practices related to the COVID-19 pandemic through the issuance of cease and desist letters to a number of individuals and entities. In addition to working to stop the sale of unapproved medical devices, including at-home coronavirus tests that have not yet received FDA authorization, the Office has targeted suspected price gouging of essential consumer goods (including masks, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies), and products advertised through misleading or unsubstantiated claims about preventing or treating COVID-19.
Supervising Deputy City Attorney Christina Tusan, Deputy City Attorneys William Pletcher, Rebecca Morse, Miguel Ruiz, and Carr Tekosky, all of the Consumer and Workplace Protection Unit, litigated this matter for the City Attorney’s Office.
Consumers can report to the City Attorney instances of COVID-19 scams or price gouging can go to the City Attorney's COVID-19 webpage or call 213-978-8700.