The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jennifer Shah was arrested Tuesday on wire-fraud conspiracy and money-laundering conspiracy charges, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office announced. Shah’s assistant, Stuart Smith, was also arrested; they are expected to appear before a judge in Utah federal court later today.
The indictment alleges that from 2012 to March 2021, Shah and Stuart “carried out a wide-ranging telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of victims” throughout the U.S., “many of whom were over age 55…” Federal prosecutors allege that Shah and Smith did so by selling victims purported “business services.”
Shah and Smith then participated in a “coordinated effort to traffic” lists of potential victims, referred to as “leads” in the indictment. They allegedly did this knowing that these people would be scammed by others involved in the telemarketing scheme.
Some participants in this fraud sold services “purporting to make the management of Victims’ businesses more efficient or profitable, including tax preparation or website design services, notwithstanding that many Victims were elderly and did not own a computer.”
Shah and Smith received a share of the sketchy revenue, under an agreement with other participants in the fraud scheme.
“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 press release. “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. Now, these defendants face time in prison for their alleged crimes.”
Shah, 47, and Smith, 43, each face 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 can result in a maximum 30-year prison sentence. They each face one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
Shah’s work has been the subject of curiosity before, stemming in part from the crew of assistants who travel with her everywhere. During part one of the season one reunion, Andy Cohen asked Shah a question from a viewer: “Why do you need four assistants?” and asked her to “break down what each of them do for you outside of clapping for your fabulous outfits and driving you around.”
Shah replied: “I need a lot of help, you know? They all do different things … I run a lot of different companies and businesses, and a lot of them have different roles in the companies.”
Cohen then asked Shah what she did for work.
“My background is in direct response marketing for about 20 years, so our company does advertising. We have a platform that helps people acquire customers, so when you’re shopping online or on the internet, and something pops, we have the algorithm behind why you’re getting served that ad,” Shah responded.