Michigan lawyers charged in alleged fraudulent debt-collecting scheme

Starting in August 2019, the suspects allegedly filed forged paperwork through a county court in at least 30 cases, authorities said

Three lawyers in Michigan have been charged in connection with an alleged scheme to collect debts that may not have been owed, according to reports.

The Oakland County attorneys -- identified as Marc Fishman, 70; Ryan Fishman, 32; and Alexandra Ichim, 33 -- were charged with multiple felony counts that included racketeering, forgery and obstruction of justice, according to FOX 2 in Detroit.

"These people, this firm, took advantage of the most vulnerable people in the state who weren’t familiar with the legal process or may have believed they needed to pay on debts they never owed," Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said Tuesday while announcing the charges. "These lawyers put a dagger in the heart of due process."

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From left are suspects Marc Fishman, Alexandra Ichim and Ryan Fishman. (Genesee County Prosecutor's Office)

From left are suspects Marc Fishman, Alexandra Ichim and Ryan Fishman. (Genesee County Prosecutor's Office)

Marc Fishman, president and CEO of the Fishman Group in Bloomfield Township, was charged with maintaining a criminal enterprise and obstruction of justice, while Ryan Fishman and Ichim, who both work there, were charged with conducting a criminal enterprise (racketeering) 30 counts of forgery and a count of obstruction of justice, according to The Detroit News.

The suspects allegedly tried to serve debt collection notices and when those failed, they filed forged paperwork through the court in at least 30 cases starting in August 2019, claiming the Fishman Group had legally served alleged debtors,  Leyton said. 

They would then allegedly use the court to try to get payments from people who had not been legally served and whom the firm had not been able to contact, according to FOX 2.

In some cases, they would copy and paste information from legitimate documents, Genesee County Sheriff Christopher Swanson said. They also allegedly garnished wages from those whom they were trying to collect. 

Racketeering charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The alleged scheme victimized people in Genesee County but officials said there are "hundreds and hundreds" more victims in the state, The Detroit News reported. 

Officials noted the law group has offices in Florida and Colorado and the scheme could be "national."

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"It's greed. It's simple greed," Swanson said, according to FOX 2. "If it wasn't for the courage of these victims and witnesses to come forward, we might not be here as soon as we are."