BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. (WXYZ) — Only 7 Action News cameras were rolling early Tuesday morning outside the Fishman Group law office and three homes on Oakland County as they were raided by deputies and local police.
The case goes through Oakland, Genesee, Livingston, Kalamazoo, Ingham, and Calhoun Counties and involves hundreds of alleged victims.
Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton says charges include running a criminal enterprise, fraud, and obstruction of justice. More specifics will be announced at a 3 pm news conference.
The attorneys being charged are a father, son, and staff attorney in the firm. Their homes were also raided, and boxes of documents and other evidence were seized at each location. The paper trail of fraud allegedly goes back to August of 2019.
The attorneys handle debt collections for banks, credit unions, leasing companies, and others, according to the firm’s website.
The website says, “after the 2008 financial crisis, debtors woke up. A collection agency can only ask for money. With the force of law and a judgment, our lawyers don’t have to ask.”
The allegations include they falsified court documents in hundreds of cases, telling the court they served papers on people who didn’t pay to get court judgments in their favor. They would then seize the assets of their targets who had not been served and didn’t know they were targets. It could be as simple as money disappearing from their bank account and they are not told why.
Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson tells 7 Action News from the scene of the Oakland County raid, “they’ve taken advantage of the weak, the poor, the voiceless. Many of them don’t even know they’ve been victimized. It came to us on a tip.”
Prosecutor David Leyton is charging Mark Fishman, his son Ryan Fishman and staff attorney Alexandra Ichim.
7 Action News cameras were rolling when Ichim was taken into custody at the law office. The cases are being coordinated with the other county prosecutors who are going through the paper trail to find victims in the scheme.
Asked why attorneys would do this leaving behind an elaborate paper trail, Prosecutor Leyton told 7 Action News, “one word, greed.”