The Hawaii Department of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Consumer Protection is investigating a Florida corporation known as the Homeowner Legal Assistance Association (HLAA), according to the Hawii Reporter. The OCP maintains that HLAA took in more than $1.5 million from state homeowners but did not provide promised services.
The HLAA loan modification program was sold to distressed Hawaii homeowners through local agents, who would arrange for payment to be sent to two HLAA attorneys in New York, according to the Reporter. The New York lawyers, in turn, would outsource the work to Florida companies, which in turn would outsource it back to local Hawaii agents. The company charged homeowners fees of $2,750-$2,950 apiece, according to the Reporter.
“All of the money that was paid by Hawaii consumers was paid under retainer agreements with these New York attorneys for legal services, and yet it does not appear as though the lawyers provided any legal services. Neither of these out of state lawyers could legally provide the promised services here in Hawaii since both attorneys were not licensed to practice law in our state," according to OCP Executive Director Bruce Kim. "The HLAA loan modification program was specifically structured to circumvent our laws, and hundreds of consumers were affected.”
More than 500 distressed homeowners in Hawaii may have been scammed in an allegedly phony loan modification scheme, according to investigators.