“Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star Jennifer Shah and her assistant are accused of running a fraudulent telemarketing scheme, according to a federal complaint.
Shah and Stuart Smith were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the special agent in charge of the New York field office of Homeland Security, and the commissioner of the New York City Police Department.
The pair were arrested Tuesday and appeared in Salt Lake City federal court, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Shah, 47, was one of six women who starred in the first season of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” the newspaper reported. Smith, called Shah’s “first assistant,” made several appearances on the reality television show.
Shah and Smith were not asked to enter pleas and the prosecution did not ask for them to be detained.
Prosecutors asked for “standard conditions” for Shah and Smith to be released -- they must appear at all hearings, cannot have contact with each other, cannot commit new crimes and must agree to restrict their travel. Both are prevented from leaving Utah except to travel to New York for further hearings, the Tribune reported.
Shah and Smith allegedly defrauded victims by selling “business services” after convincing them to enter business opportunities on sales floors in Utah, Nevada and Arizona, KSTU reported. The pair then allegedly sold the names of the people who bought into the opportunities to telemarketers in New York and New Jersey, according to a statement from Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss.
Shah and Smith have been allegedly been operating the system since 2012, Strauss said.
“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,” 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. Now, these defendants face time in prison for their alleged crimes.”
“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,” Peter Fitzhugh, the special agent-in-charge of the New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations, said in a statement. “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. As a result, their new reality may very well turn out differently than they expected.”
According to a Bravo spokesperson, the network, which airs “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” had no comment on the arrests, the Tribune reported.