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Sept. 7, 2012

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Houston Man Convicted in Debt Relief Scam

HOUSTON – Jeffery Wayne O’Neil, 54, of Houston, has entered a plea of guilty to mail fraud in relation to a debt relief scheme he perpetrated, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. O’Neil operated various debt relief businesses in the Houston area under different names including, but not limited to, J. O’Neil/Associates Inc., World Outlook, World Outlook Management (WOM) and Universal Restoration, none of which were licensed by the Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner, according to court documents.

Today, O’Neil admitted that between June 2005 and Sept. 7, 2010, he promoted a number of debt relief/elimination schemes to individuals throughout the United States.

O’Neil made numerous false representations to his “clients” and used a program called the “Debt Reconciliation Program” or “Debt Relief Program,” referred to as “DRP,” charging each client a percentage of debt as a fee for participating in the DRP. The basis of the DRP was that once a creditor cashed a check with an attached novation agreement from WOM, one of O’Neil’s businesses, the creditor was then allegedly agreeing to accept that novation agreement and look to only WOM for payment of the debt.

O’Neil admitted that in June 2009, he caused two individuals to send a cashier’s check to WOM by Federal Express to pay for their participation in the DRP and to also sign assignments of debt, assigning a credit card debt to WOM. He further caused one of these individuals to sign a novation agreement for that debt. O’Neil admitted that he fraudulently led these individuals to believe that by their signing the assignment of debt, execution of the novation agreement and their payment to WOM to participate in O’Neil’s DRP program their debt would be eliminated when it did not.

Judge Ewing Werlein, Jr., who accepted the plea today, has set sentencing for Dec. 7, 2012, at which time he faces up to 20 years imprisonment and a maximum $250,000 fine. O’Neil was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.

The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John Braddock.