Jennifer Shah, 47, of Park City, Summit County, Utah, United States and her assistant Stuart Smith, 43, of Lehi, Utah County, Utah have been arrested. They were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing carries a maximum sentence of 30 years. Conspiracy to commit money laundering carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Both Shah and Smith appeared on “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” which premiered on Bravo on November 11, 2020. The former is one of the six members of the main cast.
Along with other co-conspirators, Shah and Smith allegedly carried out a wide-ranging telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of victims throughout the U.S. from 2012 until March 2021. Many of the victims were over age 55.
Shah and Smith are accused of perpetrating a business opportunity scheme by engaging in a widespread, coordinated effort to traffic in lists of potential victims called leads. The leads were initially generated by sales floors operating in Arizona, Nevada and Utah, among other places.
The sales floors’ owners and operators operated in coordination with several telemarketing sales floors in New York and New Jersey. They provided lists of leads and assistance in fighting refund requests from the victims to other operators of the floors.
On March 30, 2021, Shah and Smith were arrested in Utah. They are set to appear in federal court in Salt Lake City before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead on the same day.
“Shah and Smith flaunted their lavish lifestyle to the public as a symbol of their ‘success,’” New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations special agent-in-charge Peter C. Fitzhugh stated. “In reality, they allegedly built their opulent lifestyle at the expense of vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people. As alleged, disturbingly, 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.”
In January 2021, Shah announced that she was launching the program called Social Commerce, which she said was meant to help women amid the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. She told Page Six that the program would help the woman “still stabilize their business through online sales because their brick and mortar stores are closed.”