The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’s Jennifer Shah and Stuart Smith were arrested on Tuesday on federal fraud charges alleging that they used a business to cheat hundreds of people nationwide over a 10-year period in a telemarketing scheme.
Shah, 47, of Park City, Utah, and Smith, 43, of Lehi, Utah, were arrested while filming in Utah and charged of masterminding a scheme to target mainly elderly people.
The cast were about to leave on a trip to Colorado, Variety reported, and Shah suddenly left, saying there was an emergency with her husband, Sharrieff Shah, a special teams coordinator for the University of Utah’s football team.
Shortly afterward, federal law enforcement arrived on set, looking for Shah.
They found her, and she was arrested.
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’s Jennifer Shah and Stuart Smith were arrested on Tuesday on federal fraud charges alleging that they used a business to cheat hundreds of people nationwide over a 10-year period in a telemarketing scheme. Shah looks on while being driven from the federal courthouse Tuesday.
Shah is seen leaving court on Tuesday after a brief hearing in Salt Lake City.
The 47-year-old will be in court, via videolink, on Wednesday before a judge in New York City.
Shah leaves court in Salt Lake City on Tuesday after a brief hearing before Judge Dustin B. Pead.
Shah, 47, was released after Tuesday’s hearing and told not to contact her co-defendant, Stuart Smith
The cameras were rolling, but Variety’s source was not sure whether law enforcement had forced them to stop filming.
The charges were unsealed in New York City, and the pair appeared in court in Salt Lake City on Tuesday afternoon, before Chief Magistrate Judge Dustin B. Pead.
They were released after the brief hearing, which was held to confirm their identity.
Judge Pead ordered that the pair do not leave Utah while awaiting their case, avoid contact with co-defendants, and refrain from any telemarketing.
They will appear at a virtual hearing in New York on Wednesday.
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.
Stuart Smith, 43, walks out of federal court on Tuesday after the intial brief hearing.
Jennifer Shah, 47, of Park City, Utah, and Stuart Smith, 43, of Lehi, Utah, were arrested in Utah on charges including conspiracy unsealed in New York City, authorities announced.
Shah (center, silver gown) with other cast members on the year-old reality TV show.
Shah and Smith are seen in an episode of the reality TV show.
The first page of the indictment for Jennifer Shah and Stuart Smith
The prosecutor said they ‘allegedly generated and sold ‘lead lists’ of innocent individuals for other members of their scheme to repeatedly scam.
In actual reality, prosecutors claimed, 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.
Authorities said the fraud scheme ripped off hundreds of victims nationwide for a decade from 2012 until March 2021.
The release states that the pair ‘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 people listed as part of the scheme.
The leads were initially generated by sales floors operating in Arizona, Nevada, Utah and other places.
Owners and those operating the sales floor worked ‘in coordination with several telemarketing sales floors in the New York and New Jersey area, including in Manhattan,’ according to the release.
These owners also provided lead lists and assistance in fighting refund requests when needed on the sales floors.
In September, Shah tweeted a post about how fellow franchise star Teresa Giudice ‘walked’ so she could ‘run,’ showing herself in a hostile scene from the show. Giudice plead guilty to fraud in 2014
The release further states that the pair ‘generated and sold leads’ for others in the scheme and knew that their victims were being defrauded.
The duo ‘received as profit a share of the fraudulent revenue per the terms of their agreement’ with those also involved in the scheme, according to the release.
Shah and Smith underwent ‘significant efforts’ to conceal their roles in the scheme, including incorporating their business entities using third parties’ names and instructed others to do the same.
They also ‘used and directed others to use encrypted messaging applications to communicate’ with others in the scheme, told their subordinates to send them ‘shares of certain fraud proceeds to offshore bank accounts,’ and made ‘numerous cash withdrawals structured to avoid currency transaction reporting requirements,’ according to the release.
Prosecutors said Shah (right) and Smith ‘allegedly generated and sold ‘lead lists’ of innocent individuals for other members of their scheme to repeatedly scam.
Prosecutors in New York noted that Shah portrayed herself as a successful businesswoman
‘Shah and Smith flaunted their lavish lifestyle to the public as a symbol of their ‘success,” HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said in the release.
‘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.’
If Shah is convicted of the charges, according to the Southern District press release, she faces up to 30 years in prison.