Star of 'Real Housewives of Salt Lake City' accused of leading telemarketing fraud scheme

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Source: NBC

Mar. 31 2021, Updated 10:11 a.m. ET

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A reality television star and her assistant face decades in prison for running a telemarketing scheme that included fraud and money laundering, federal prosecutors allege. 

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A federal grand jury indicted Jennifer Shah, who was on the show “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, and her assistant Stuart Smith. The indictments were announced on March 30. They were each charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection to telemarketing and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Both face a maximum of 50 years in prison. 

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Prosecutors say between 2012 and 2021, the duo and others rand a telemarketing scheme that targeted elderly victims. 

The scheme included selling the victim so-called “business services,” according to court paperwork. That included selling services to help make the victim’s business more profitable, such as tax-preparation help or website design services to the victims, despite many victims did not own computers. 

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The company also made a list of potential victims and used it to further the scheme. The group initially worked with places in Arizona, Nevada and Utah, but spread to telemarketing services in New York and New Jersey, according to prosecutors. 

Prosecutors claim the two took “significant” involvement to conceal their roles in the scheme. For example, they used a third party to incorporate their business entities and directed others using encrypted messaging applications. 

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Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said: “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.  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 [Homeland Security Investigations] Salt Lake City, HSI New York worked to ensure that Shah and Smith will answer for their alleged crimes.  As a result, their new reality may very well turn out differently than they expected.”

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