Hawaii State Obtains Judgment Against Individual in Mortgage Rescue Fraud Case

The State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affair’s (“DCCA”) Office of Consumer Protection (“OCP”) on Friday obtained a judgment against Sean Keala Remos (“Remos”) and Loan Network Honolulu LLC aka Loan Network Honolulu LLC (“Loan Network”). The judgment prohibits Remos and Loan Network from violating Hawaii’s consumer protection laws, requires them to pay back consumers and imposes civil penalties of $10,000.

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OCP’s lawsuit alleged that Remos acted as distressed property consultant and promised to help distressed homeowners obtain loan modifications. He collected upfront fees from the homeowners and failed to get loan modifications or provide refunds.

“Homeowners should think twice when approached by anyone offering to save their home from foreclosure and asking you for payment upfront. It’s generally illegal under state and federal law to charge an upfront fee to save your house from foreclosure,” said Bruce Kim, OCP’s Executive Director. “You can obtain the same help at no charge by contacting a certified housing counselor. Housing counselors work for non-profit agencies and are trained to help homeowners who find themselves in this situation.”

If you are behind 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.

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

  • Promises they can stop the foreclosure process, no matter your circumstances
  • 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 paymentsRecommends 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 or that you don’t Understand Violations of Hawaii’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.

Act 183, signed into law by Governor Neil Abercrombie on June 28, 2012, makes violations of the Mortgage Rescue Fraud Prevention Act a class C felony with a mandatory $10,000 fine.

Anyone who believes they have been victimized by a mortgage rescue scam, whether by the above Defendants or any other business, and have not filed a complaint with the OCP may call 587-3222.

Certified housing counseling agencies in Hawaii provide advice on defaults, foreclosures and credit issues for free.  You can locate a certified Hawaii housing counselor by contacting the Hawaii Foreclosure Information Center at  http://HFIC.Hawaii.gov or call 587-3222, toll free at 1-800-394-1902.

The Hawaii Foreclosure Information Center is a free public information service operated by DCCA. Lisa Tong, a senior staff attorney at the Office of Consumer Protection, represented the State on the case.

Training Offered Next Week on the Big Island for Federal Grant Applicants

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Non-profits and other organizations interested in pursuing federal funding for projects that benefit low- and moderate-income households are invited to special training sessions on September 22 and 23.

The Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD) along with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD Honolulu Office) are coordinating the workshops on the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnerships programs.

HOME Investment Partnerships provide federal funding to assist in developing housing including rental units for very low-income households and individuals, and also to provide rental subsidies. CDBG funding can be used to build projects that benefit low- and moderate-income households and individuals.

Eligible applicants may include public agencies, private non-profit organizations, community-based development organizations, developers, community housing development organizations or other private organizations.

The workshops will provide an overview of the programs including their objectives; the kinds of projects that may be eligible; some of the steps applicants must follow; the reporting requirements; and availability of funding for the programs for 2012.

Mark Chandler, Director of CPD Honolulu will conduct the workshops in Hilo on September 22 at the OHCD Existing Housing Division Conference Room at 1990 Kinoole Street, Room #104 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

A second workshop will be offered in Kona on September 23 at the West Hawai`i Civic Center (Community Meeting Hale, 1st Floor) located at 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy. from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

New West Hawaii Homeless Shelter Blessed

From the Mayor’s Office:

About 100 people attended the blessing for the first emergency homeless shelter in West Hawai’i, located in the old industrial area and adjacent to the existing Friendly Place service center at 74-5593 Pawai Place in Kailua-Kona.

The new West Hawai’i Emergency Housing Program Facility has a total of 31 beds with separate wings for men and women, and cost $1.77 million. Until now, west Hawai’i did not have an emergency homeless shelter that serves adult single clients.

Funding is being provided by the federal, state and county governments. The largest single source of funding is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is providing special project grants of $670,613 and $148,500. Additional funding for the project is being provided through a state appropriation of $453,007, and $500,000 in county construction funding.

Rev. Brian Boshard of Mokuaikaua Church conducted the blessing, which featured U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and County of Hawaii Mayor Billy Kenoi as featured speakers. Also speaking were Housing Office Administrator Steve Arnett and Carol Ignacio, executive director of the Office for Social Ministry, which will manage the facility though an organization known as Hope Services Inc.

The new facility will enhance the existing “Friendly Place” service center. Each wing will have a bathroom and shower facilities, laundry facilities, common kitchen and meeting areas, and a multipurpose room for classes and meetings. The facility will also have administrative space for the facility operator, and storage space.

The new facility will provide emergency shelter and services to clients to help them stabilize and to encourage self-sufficiency. Clients will be offered employment and housing search assistance, budgeting and life skills training and other classes along with guidance to help them connect with other off-site community resources.

There are just under 1,000 people in Hawai`i County experiencing homelessness. About half of them are homeless individuals who will benefit from this facility.

During the ceremony, special thanks were extended to County Councilman Kelly Greenwell and the Kona Outdoor Circle, who donated thousands of dollars worth of landscaping material and labor to the facility.