The Real Housewives Of Salt Lake City star Jennifer Shah and her assistant/partner, Stuart Smith, have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The announcement was made Tuesday, March 30, by Audrey Strauss, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Peter C. Fitzhugh, the special agent-in-charge of the New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations, and Dermot Shea, commissioner of the New York City Police Department, following the unsealing of a Superseding Indictment.
The two were arrested earlier today and will be presented this afternoon in Salt Lake City federal court before United States Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead, according to The U.S. Department Of Justice.
The 47-year-old reality starlet, of Park City, Utah, and Smith, 43, of Lehi, Utah, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing through which they allegedly 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.
“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," said Manhattan D.A. Strauss. "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.”
According to the allegations in the Superseding Indictment, from 2012 until March 2021, Shah and Smith, together with others, carried out a wide-ranging telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of victims throughout the United States, many of whom were over age 55, by selling so-called “business services” in connection with the victims’ purported online businesses.
In order to perpetrate the scheme, participants, including Shah and Smith, allegedly engaged in a widespread, coordinated effort to traffic in lists of potential victims, or “leads,” many of whom had previously made an initial investment to create an online business with other participants in the scheme.
Leads were initially generated by sales floors operating in, among other places, Arizona, Nevada and Utah, according to the press release. The owners and operators of those sales floors allegedly operated in coordination with several telemarketing sales floors in the New York and New Jersey area, including in Manhattan, and provided lead lists and assistance in fighting victim refund requests to other participants operating those floors.
Shah and Smith, among other things, allegedly generated and sold leads for use by their telemarketing sales floors with the knowledge that the individuals they had identified as “leads” would be defrauded by the other participants. Shah and Smith then received a profit share of the fraudulent revenue, according to the release.
“Shah and Smith flaunted their lavish lifestyle to the public as a symbol of their ‘success,'" said HSI special agent-in-charge Fitzhugh. "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.
"Working with our partners at the NYPD and the United States Attorney’s Office, SDNY, and with the assistance of HSI Salt Lake City, HSI New York worked to ensure that Shah and Smith will answer for their alleged crimes," he added. "As a result, their new reality may very well turn out differently than they expected.”
“These individuals allegedly targeted and defrauded hundreds of victims but thanks to the hard work of the NYPD and our law enforcement partners, this illegal scheme was brought to an end. I congratulate the NYPD detectives, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York for their hard work in bringing these persons to justice," said NYPD commissioner Shea.
The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Sidney H. Stein.