‘Real Housewives’ Star Jen Shah Ran Telemarketing Scheme That Scammed the Elderly, Feds Say | #scams | #elderlyscams
Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jennifer Shah and her “first assistant” Stuart Smith have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.
Federal prosecutors allege that Shah and Smith, who has also appeared on RHOSLC, drummed up victims for a telemarketing scam that ran for nine years.
A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York states that both Shah and Smith were arrested Tuesday, and will appear in Salt Lake City federal court this afternoon.
According to the release, the alleged telemarketing scam ran from 2012 through March of this year and defrauded hundreds of victims—many of whom were over the age of 55. Shah and Smith allegedly profited by generating leads for their co-conspirators in a telemarketing ring that allegedly sold its victims bogus business opportunities and services.
As Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss put it in a statement, “the so-called business opportunities pushed on the victims by Shah, Smith, and their co-conspirators were just fraudulent schemes, motivated by greed, to steal victims’ money.”
Added HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh: “Shah and Smith flaunted their lavish lifestyle to the public as a symbol of their ‘success.’ In reality, they allegedly built their opulent lifestyle at the expense of vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people.”
Fitzhugh added that Shah and Smith “objectified their very real human victims as ‘leads’ to be bought and sold, offering their personal information for sale to other members of their fraud ring.”
Conspiracy to commit wire fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years, while conspiracy to commit money laundering caps at 20 years.
Real Housewives of Salt Lake City premiered last November on Bravo. Shah, a mother of two touted as the CEO of three marketing companies in her network bio, was announced as a cast member before the series premiered.
“Always decked out in designer brands, Jen loves to host parties and spares no expense—it’s important to her that everyone knows she is the best host in Utah,” her bio reads. “With an extravagant personality and sharp tongue, she can go from 0 to 100 very quickly, but usually comes back with apologies and love.”
Smith, though not an official member of the cast, has appeared alongside Shah on the program multiple times.
A representative for Bravo declined to comment.