“The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” personalities Jennifer Shah and Stuart Smith have been arrested and charged in a nationwide telemarking scheme.
According to the complaint filed in New York district court Tuesday, Shah and Smith allegedly participated in a scheme that defrauded hundreds of people, many over the age of 55, who were looking for help in running online businesses.
As part of the scheme, which lasted from 2012 until this month, participants sold victims fake services, including for tax preparation and website design. Many of the victims were elderly and did not own computers, the complaint says.
Shah and Smith are each facing one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office, these charges carry maximum sentences of 30 and 20 years in prison, respectively.
Shah, 47, of Park City, Utah, has been a cast member on “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” since the show’s premiere in 2020. Smith, 43, of Lehi, Utah, is portrayed as Shah’s first assistant on the show, Manhattan U.S. attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement. They were arrested Tuesday, according to the release.
A representative for Shah told USA TODAY they have no comment at this time.
The complaint details how Shah and Smith allegedly worked to defraud several people with false promises to improve their online businesses. According to the document, they generated and sold lists of potential victims, called “leads,” to other participants in the scheme, knowing that these people would be defrauded.
The document adds that Shah and Smith received a share of the fraudulent revenue from other participants in the scheme, in exchange for providing these “leads.”
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“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 a statement. “In reality, they allegedly built their opulent lifestyle at the expense of vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people.”
The complaint also accuses Shah and Smith of making “significant efforts” to hide their involvement in the scheme, including the use of offshore bank accounts and encrypted messaging apps.
Contributing: Associated Press
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