2 island women indicted
in home loan fraud case

The pair allegedly bilked
homeowners facing foreclosure

By Rod Antone

A federal grand jury has indicted two women for allegedly running a loan scheme that took advantage of homeowners faced with losing their homes.

The indictment issued last Wednesday and unsealed Monday charges 42-year-old Arlene Nii, also known as Arlene Maupuana Estacion, and Tracy Kuhns, 32, with nine counts of mail fraud. Federal prosecutors alleged that both women used the mail to solicit individuals who they knew were facing the foreclosure of their homes.

In the letters, prosecutors said, the defendants offered housing counseling services to clients through a business called HomeSavers-Hawaii and Hawaii International Funding Co. and stated that their purpose was to assist homeowners with delinquent mortgage payments by helping them obtain a loan.

Prosecutors said in exchange for the loans the defendants asked for an "advance fee," which ranged between $100 and $5,000 per client.

Prosecutors did not say how many clients the defendants had, but stated that they had collected advance fee payments from dozens of people.

"This wasn't a very complicated scheme," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Nakamura. "They basically said pay up front, and we'll get a loan to you or we'll refund your money.

"People didn't get either."

In the indictment, prosecutors said Kuhns and Nii started their operation in August 1997 and continued until at least June 1998. Despite collecting thousands of dollars in advance payments and even advising some that their loan agreements had been approved, prosecutors said, neither Nii nor Kuhns arranged for or secured loans for them.

In certain instances, prosecutors said the defendants told clients that the loan proceeds would be provided sooner if clients made additional payments.

If convicted of the charges, prosecutors say, the defendants could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the nine counts of mail fraud.

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