Judge fines Keaau woman $252K


A Maui Circuit judge has found found Edna A. Franco of Keaau in civil contempt for violating a preliminary injunction obtained by the state Office of Consumer Protection against Franco and her business, Francha Services LLC.

Judge Rhonda Loo imposed a civil fine against Franco of $1,000 per day until Franco proves to the court that she complies with the terms of the preliminary injunction. As of April 4, the fines amounted to $252,000.

Franco and her business targeted homeowners on Maui, Oahu and the Big Island. The homeowners were asked to pay Franco a substantial advance fee before she would help them and then she did little if anything to complete any of the services she promised.

The preliminary injunction bars Franco and her business from directly or indirectly offering to perform mortgage rescue services and asking for, demanding or receiving advance fees for such services. Evidence presented by OCP showed that Franco violated the injunction by continuing to offer mortgage rescue services to distressed homeowners and requesting payment of upfront fees from the homeowners.

“Judge Loo’s order finding Franco in contempt reflects the severity of Franco’s irresponsible conduct and recognizes that charging at-risk homeowners illegal advance fees to save their house from foreclosure can inflict severe economic and emotional harm upon these vulnerable families,” Bruce B. Kim, OCP’s executive director, said in a written statement.

If you are in default on your mortgage or facing foreclosure, you may be targeted by a mortgage rescue scam. These mortgage rescue “professionals” use half-truths and deceptive tactics to sell services that promise relief to homeowners in distress while demanding a substantial upfront fee.

HUD-approved housing counseling agencies in Hawaii offer free counseling services on buying a home, renting, defaults, foreclosures, and credit issues. If you are facing foreclosure, you can locate a HUD-approved Hawaii housing counselor by contacting the Hawaii Foreclosure Information Center toll free at 1-800-394-1902. You may also visit their website at www.HFIC.hawaii.gov. The Hawaii Foreclosure Information Center is a free service operated by the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to help homeowners facing foreclosure.

Anyone who believes they have been victimized by a mortgage rescue scam can file a complaint with the state’s Office of Consumer Protection at 933-0910.

 

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