"The Mortgage Counselor"
Bear in mind that this is simply my own experience with one mortgage "counselor". Your mileage may vary. Objects in mirror are closer than they appear. Always wear safety goggles. Do not operate heavy machinery until you know how this will affect you.
I have been asked on several occasions of my opinion of Ms. Marie McDonnell, formerly known as "The Mortgage Counselor", now operating under the business name "Truth In Lending Audit & Recovery Services, LLC" of Orleans, Ma. Each time I do my best to answer honestly about my experience with her. It is this experience, and subsequent conversations with CPA/CFEs that has convinced me that hiring a Certified Public Accountant with Certified Fraud Examiner status or a Forensic Accountant is a much more legally and financially sound investment than procuring the services of a so-called "mortgage counselor". It seems that Mortgage Servicing Fraud victims are finding Ms. McDonnell due to media exposure that she has managed to garner through articles such as December of 2006's Business Week article covering Mortgage Servicing Fraud. It's now time to lay out what my experience was with her and a Court Order out of Minnesota District Court (Rimstad v Wells Fargo et al, US MN 07-2582 (DWF/AJB)) in which she was involved solidifies my opinion that sharing my experience is the right thing to do.
Prior to securing legal counsel, I hired Ms. McDonnell in Feb/March of 2003 after being served with an Intent to Foreclose by Thomas Santolucito of Harmon Law Offices claiming to represent Merrill Lynch. After driving three hours to personally deliver my "box o'evidence" and paying $1500.00 upfront for her services I left with the assurance that I would have a complete analysis of my loan within roughly three weeks of the day that I paid her. During our initial meeting, Ms. McDonnell discussed with me the possibility of negotiating some kind of deal with Fairbanks on my behalf. At the time, I explained to her that I was not inclined to make a decision on the spot and told her I wanted to wait to see what the analysis of my loan would show. Truth be told, I was very uncomfortable with the idea of her representing me in any legal capacity as she is not an attorney and ultimately I hired a licensed attorney to handle my case.
Several weeks went by during which time I checked in to see how things were going with my analysis when I learned that the motherboard on her main PC had died and needed to be replaced. Ms. McDonnell informed me that this would cause a slight delay in the completion of my analysis but should not seriously affect the overall time frame by more than a week or two. Cutting a long story short, after many telephone calls to The Mortgage Counselor's office and many excuses I finally became frustrated with Ms. McDonnell and in September of 2003 again drove the three hours to her office to pick up whatever work had been performed on my loan analysis.
Upon arriving at her office I again had to wait for her to "finish" my analysis at which time I was given a neatly arranged three ring binder of information - the vast majority of which I had provided to Ms. McDonnell. In fact, the only contribution that she had made to the two-inch thick binder, addressed not to me but to the original attorney representing me, was a three-page spreadsheet analysis of my loan and an eight-page chronology documenting the order of events upon which she focused during the analysis of my loan. Other than the time line and the spreadsheet there was no additional information. Nothing was included to "translate" the spreadsheet information into "English" for anyone other than an individual with training in bookkeeping to understand.
In 2004, shortly before pre-trial hearings were scheduled in my matter, my attorney at that time felt it necessary to return to Ms. McDonnell as a result of the aforementioned lack of "translation" and request that she furnish such a translation before heading into court. At that time, the possibility of Ms. McDonnell testifying was explored but, due to the cost of her testimony and the fact that a boyfriend's need for dental work conflicted with my court hearing, it was decided that the spreadsheet translation would be enough to present to the court if necessary. As a result of having to "revisit" my analysis, Ms. McDonnell felt justified in charging yet another $975.00 for her time - for an element of my analysis that should have been included in the first place. In the sole interest of saving my home from an illegal foreclosure I agreed to Ms. McDonnell's terms. Fortunately, the analysis was not required during trial and my attorney was able to obtain a permanent injunction against Fairbanks/SPS on my behalf without relying on the audit.
June 5, 2004 I received an e-mail from Ms. McDonnell informing me that she had "seized a chance" to explore the willingness of Harmon Law Offices Head of Litigation, David Rosen, to negotiate rather than litigate my claims. This action was taken by Ms. McDonnell without my knowledge, authorization or consent or that of my attorney and never would have been agreed to as I had more than competent legal counsel in place to handle any "negotiations". Ms. McDonnell's unauthorized, unprofessional and inexcusable overstepping of bounds in our professional relationship could have severely compromised my case to the point of irrecoverability with that single conversation.
Upon learning of this conversation, I telephoned Ms. McDonnell and, in no uncertain terms, pointedly asked her where she obtained the authority to have such a conversation on my behalf. Instead of answering my question she became rather irrational, repeatedly attempting to defuse the situation by intimating that I had done something wrong and, when faced with a direct question that she could not argue away from, ultimately accused me of threatening her. Immediately after that, she ended the telephone call by hanging up on me and within an hour chose to remove herself from my case in writing before she could be fired. I had hoped that it would be the last that I heard from her. At the time that this conversation took place, Attorney Rosen had not yet appeared to represent Fairbanks Capital Corp. n/k/a Select Portfolio Servicing Inc. in my case. That would change, however, in 2005 when Attorney Rosen began appearing pro hac vice with Attorney Veronica Vivieros of Harmon Law Offices.
Late 2004 early 2005 I began talking to Joe Bergantino's producer at CBS 4 in Boston about Mortgage Servicing Fraud. The story developed until mid July when I learned that Mr. Bergantino had interviewed Ms. McDonnell as part of the Mortgage Servicing Fraud story. Not trusting Ms. McDonnell to handle the interview professionally, I sent her a Cease and Desist letter ccing both Mr. Bergantino's staff and my attorney. By that time I simply did not trust Ms. McDonnell and could not risk her discussing any portion of my case with anyone. The C&D letter did absolutely no good though because not only do I have evidence that she never bothered to stop discussing my case or using it as marketing and promotional material to further her own business and career, but, , it has recently come to my attention that Ms. McDonnell insists on fabricating stories regarding my character, the analysis I hired her to perform, my case and most importantly her involvement in said case to this day. To that end, if you are in possession of documents pertaining to me, my case or my then attorney Roy Tilsley which were sent to you by Marie McDonnell, please contact me by sending email to
Overall, my experience in dealing with Ms. McDonnell was definitely less than pleasant. Once I began to learn more about Mortgage Servicing Fraud and my surroundings I learned to double and triple check myself. When I looked at Ms. McDonnell's educational resume, it became clear that she held no degree in any form of accounting. In fact, the vast majority of her educational background appears to be self-taught or at the very least self-directed. To the best of my knowledge, she is neither a member of nor regulated by the Massachusetts Board of Accountancy and when I called the Town of Orleans to inquire about her business registration there was some question as to whether she was even registered to do business in the town when I hired her in 2003.