RHOSLC star Jen Shah charged with fraud, money laundering in alleged telemarketing scam
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jen Shah was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering as part of an alleged nationwide scheme, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.
Shah's assistant Stuart Smith, who has also appeared on the Bravo reality series, was charged as well. Both were arrested Tuesday in Salt Lake City and were slated to appear in federal court later in the day.
The indictment charging Shah and Smith alleges that the pair "carried out a wide-ranging telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of victims" nationwide, many of whom were senior citizens, by selling "so-called 'business services' in connection with the Victims' purported online businesses." The scheme is said to have taken place from at least 2012.
"Jennifer Shah, who portrays herself as a wealthy and successful businessperson on 'reality' television, and Stuart Smith, who is portrayed as Shah's 'first assistant,' allegedly generated and sold 'lead lists' of innocent individuals for other members of their scheme to repeatedly scam," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement. "In actual reality and as alleged, 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."
"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," added Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh.
Representatives for Shah and Bravo, which airs The Real Housewives, declined to comment. EW was unable to locate contact information for Smith.
Shah was one of six main cast members on The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City's first season, which concluded about a month ago. (The show has been renewed for a second season.) She is the CEO of three marketing companies and is married to University of Utah football coach Sharrieff Shah.
According to the charges, Shah and Smith sold services "including tax preparation or website design services, notwithstanding that many Victims were elderly and did not own a computer."
"At no point did the defendants intend that the Victims would actually earn any of the promised return on their intended investment, nor did the Victims actually earn such returns," the indictment continues.
Shah and Smith are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing through which they victimized 10 or more persons over the age of 55, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.