‘Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’ star arrested on federal fraud charge

Entertainment

This image released by Bravo shows Jen Shah, a cast member from the reality series “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.” Authorities announced that Shah and Stuart Smith were arrested Tuesday in Utah on federal fraud charges. (Chad Kirkland/Bravo via AP)

NEW YORK CITY (ABC4) – “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” cast member Jennifer Shah and her assistant, Stuart Smith, have been arrested and charged with running a nationwide telemarketing fraud scheme and conspiring to commit money laundering.

The indictment, which you can read below, says from 2012 to March 2021, Shah and Smith, along with others, carried out a wide-ranging telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of victims across the U.S. Many of the victims were over the age of 55, according to court officials, and were sold so-called “business services” in connection with their purported online businesses.

New York Police say Shah and Smith allegedly targeted and defrauded hundreds of victims.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss noted in a release that Shah portrays herself as a wealthy and successful businessperson on television, while Smith was cast as her first assistant. Shah is in the main cast of the Bravo program, which completed its first season in February.

According to court records, 47-year-old Shah of Park City, Utah and 43-year-old Smith of Lehi, Utah are 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.

Shah, Smith and an unidentified number of others are accused of engaging in a widespread, coordinated effort to traffic in lists of potential victims, or “leads,” that had previously made an initial investment to create an online business with other suspects involved. Leads were reportedly generated by sales floors operating in Utah, Arizona and Nevada, among other locations.

Owners and operators of those sales floors worked in coordination with some telemarketing sales floors in New York and New Jersey. They allegedly provided lead lists and assistance in fighting victim refund requests to others operating sales floors.

Court documents say Shah and Smith were among those that generated and sold leads to other suspects for use by their telemarketing sales floors with the knowledge that individuals had identified as “leads” would be defrauded. The two allegedly received as profit a share of the fraudulent revenue per the terms of agreement with other participants.

Shah and Smith are also accused of undertaking efforts to conceal their roles in the scheme, such as incorporating their business entities using third parties’ names and instructed others to do the same. Those paying Shah and Smith were directed to send funds to offshore bank accounts as well, according to investigators.

It was not clear who would represent Shah and Smith during an initial appearance in federal court in Salt Lake City on Tuesday.

READ: Federal indictment against Jennifer Shah

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The Associated Press Contributed to this report.

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