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Injunction Issued Against Keaau Company For Foreclosure Fraud

August 1, 2012, 8:16 PM HST
* Updated August 1, 9:30 PM
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The State is reminding homeowners to beware of foreclosure prevention scams after it received an injunction against a Keaau-based company for violations of Hawaii’s Mortgage Rescue Fraud Prevention Act and other consumer protection laws.

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Office of Consumer Protection obtained a preliminary injunction on July 25 against Francha Services, LLC and its owner Edna A. Franco.

Earlier this year, the DCCA sued both Francha Services and Franco in Circuit Court on Maui alleging that the firm committed multiple violations of the Act, which helps protect people with homes in foreclosure or at risk of foreclosure.

The suit also alleges Franco’s company engaged in a pattern and practice of unfair and deceptive conduct and that Franco actively or passively participated in the violations.

In addition to the DCCA injunction, the Better Business Bureau website shows that there have been three complaints against Francha Services LLC in the past three years, all of which have been closed.

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According to a statement released today, the DCCA stated that Franco and her business targeted consumers on Maui, Oahu and the Big Island, offering to save their homes from foreclosure. The homeowners had to pay Franco in advance before she would help them and then she did little if anything to complete any of the services she promised.

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Maui Circuit Court Judge Rhonda Loo barred Franco from soliciting business from, or contacting for any purpose, Hawai`i consumers who are owners of “distressed property,” continuing to act as “distressed property consultants,” and/or engaging in any “distressed property consultant contracts.”

The injunction also prohibits Franco and her business from directly or indirectly asking for or receiving any money from any Hawai`i consumers for any purpose until after Franco and her business has fully performed any services that they have contracted or promised to deliver or perform.

Violations of Hawai`’s Mortgage Rescue Fraud Prevention Act and the laws prohibiting unfair and deceptive trade practices subject offending parties to fines ranging from $500 to $10,000 per violation.

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Act 183, signed into law by Gov. Neil Abercrombie on June 28, now makes violations of the Mortgage Rescue Fraud Prevention Act a class C felony with a mandatory $10,000 fine.

If members of the public are in default on their mortgage or facing foreclosure, the state has warned that they 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, the state said.

Tips on Avoiding Mortgage Rescue Scams:

If you are looking for foreclosure prevention help, avoid any business that:

  • Promises it can stop the foreclosure process, no matter your circumstance
  • Instructs you not to contact your lender, lawyer or HUD-approved credit or housing counselor
  • Collects a fee before providing any services
  • Recommends that you stop making your mortgage payments
  • Recommends that you make your mortgage payments directly to it, rather than your lender
  • Pressures you to sign papers you haven’t had a chance to read thoroughly or that you don’t understand.

Anyone who believes they have been victimized by a mortgage rescue scam and have not filed a complaint with the State’s Office of Consumer Protection may call 587-3222 in Honolulu.

HUD-approved housing counseling agencies in Hawaii can provide free advice on buying a home, renting, defaults, foreclosures, and credit issues. If facing foreclosure, members of the public can locate a HUD-approved Hawaii housing counselor at http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hcs.cfm/. They may also call 888-995-HOPE (4673) around-the-clock for free, comprehensive foreclosure assistance from housing experts.

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