It’s not looking good for Jennifer Shah!
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star was arrested Tuesday in Salt Lake City on federal charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering in connection with an alleged long-running telemarketing scam. And the worst part? Bravo allegedly recorded the arrest on camera!
Stuart Smith, who appeared with the apparently fraudulent marketing maven on the reality series as her assistant, was also indicted in the alleged scheme. Manhattan US Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement said on Tuesday:
“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. 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,”.
According to the indictment against them out of Manhattan federal court, Shah, Smith and others not identified “defrauded hundreds of victims” out of thousands of dollars by generating lists of potential victims, then selling those leads to telemarketing companies that would later try to sell the victims business services like coaching sessions, tax prep, and web design marketed to make their online businesses more profitable.
Feds say Shah and co. did not “intend that the victims would actually earn any of the promised return on their intended investment, nor did the victims actually earn any such returns” — yet they would receive a share of the allegedly fraudulent revenue those telemarketers generated.
The indictment also accuses Shah and Smith of overseeing several components of the scheme — like which products were for sale and for how much — and claimed that both “undertook significant efforts to conceal their roles” in the scheme, including incorporating their business entities using third parties’ names. They also allegedly had their proceeds sent to offshore bank accounts.
The indictment notes that many of the victims were elderly and did not own a computer, and that this alleged scam ran for at least nine years — from 2012 until this month. The fraud conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. The duo are next scheduled to appear in New York federal court virtually on Wednesday.
As fans know, Shah is one of the main stars of the newest edition of Real Housewives. Her Bravo biography describes her as the “queen of her house and her businesses as the CEO of three marketing companies.” During a reunion special last month, Shah tried to explain what exactly she did for a living, telling viewers:
“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.”
No wonder that was such a confusing response!
Are U shocked by this indictment, Perezcious readers?
[Image via Bravo/YouTube]