A Maui judge ordered a Keaau woman and her company to pay fines and restitution totaling more than $1 million for what state regulators say was a mortgage rescue scam.
The May 8 judgment by Maui Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo ordered Edna Franco and her company, Francha Services LLC, to pay $168,648.05 in restitution and prejudgment interest to 17 victims who reported Franco’s illegal activities to the state’s Office of Consumer Protection.
Loo also ordered Franco and her company to pay $874,157.20 in civil fines and penalties, for a total judgment of $1,042,805.25.
In 2010, Franco and her company began meeting with victims regarding their mortgages, many of whom were either in foreclosure or at risk of foreclosure. In the course of these meetings, 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.
Franco and company collected thousands of dollars from each victim up front and saved none of the homeowners’ properties from foreclosure.
The permanent injunction prohibits Franco and her company from owning or operating any business in the state until all amounts due under the judgment have been paid.
Franco and her company are prohibited from acting as “distressed property consultants,” meaning they cannot perform services relating to properties that are in foreclosure or at risk of being foreclosed. Franco and her company are precluded from charging or collecting any money or fees until after they have fully performed all services they may have contracted or promised to perform.
“Judge Loo’s ruling sends a clear and unambiguous message that this type of illegal conduct targeting Hawaii’s homeowners will not be tolerated,” OCP Executive Director Bruce B. Kim said. “On April 25, 2014, Gov. Abercrombie signed Act 26 into law expanding protections for distressed homeowners against these predatory schemes. This judgment and the changes adopted under Act 26 reaffirm that the state intends to pursue these illegal operations to the full extent of the law.