East Hawaii News

Keaau Woman Assessed $1M in Fines, Restitution

May 13, 2014, 7:02 PM HST
* Updated May 14, 11:03 AM
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A Maui judge has ordered a Big Island woman to pay more than $1 million in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme.

Judge Rhonda Loo ordered Edna A. Franco and her company, Francha Services LLC, to pay more than $168,000 in restitution to 17 victims.

Loo’s May 8 ruling also orders Franco and her company to pay $874,157 in civil fines and penalties.

Loo also issued a permanent injunction prohibiting Franco or her company from owning or operating any business in Hawaii until all of the judgment has been paid.

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs filed the civil action against Franco last year, saying Franco had violated Hawaii’s Mortgage Rescue Fraud Prevention Act.

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The agency said beginning in 2010, Franco began telling the victims, many of whom were either in foreclosure or at risk of foreclosure, that she could help them get out of trouble.

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“Franco told the homeowners that she could save their properties from foreclosure or help them get their homes free and clear with forensic loan audits and offered to assist the victims with filing lawsuits against their lenders,” the DCCA said in a press release.

Franco, a resident of Keaau, collected thousands of dollars from each victim up front for services that were either poorly rendered or never rendered at all, the agency said.

The DCCA said Franco did not save any of the homeowners’ properties from foreclosure.

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“Judge Loo’s ruling sends a clear and unambiguous message that this type of illegal conduct targeting Hawaii’s homeowners will not be tolerated,” said Bruce B. Kim, executive director of the DCCA’s Office of Consumer Protection.

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