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‘Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’ star faces federal fraud charges for nationwide telemarketing scheme

WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE WITH ANDY COHEN -- Episode 17205 -- Pictured in this screen grab: Jen Shah -- (Photo by: Bravo)

SALT LAKE CITY– Jennifer Shah, a star on ‘The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’ reality TV show, has been arrested and charged in connection to a nationwide telemarketing fraud scheme. 

A news release Tuesday from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York states Shah, 47, and her assistant Stuart Smith, 43, have been charged with “conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and conspiracy to commit money laundering.” 

Both Shah and Smith were arrested Tuesday and appeared in federal court in Salt Lake City on Tuesday afternoon. 

Charging documents allege over the last ten years, Shah and Smith, along with other associates, executed a wide-ranging telemarketing scheme to cheat hundreds of US residents, many of whom were over age 55, by selling “business services.” 

These services include “tax preparation or website design services,” despite many of the victims being “elderly and did not own a computer.”

Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said the lavish lifestyles Shah and Smith portray on television comes at the cost of innocent victims. 

“They allegedly built their opulent lifestyle at the expense of vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people,” said Fitzhugh. “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.” 

To cover their tracks, the news release states Shah, Smith and their associates incorporated “business entities using third parties’ names,” used encrypted messaging apps to communicate, told their associates to send “certain fraud proceeds to offshore bank accounts” and “made numerous cash withdrawals structured to avoid currency transaction reporting requirements.” 

In convicted, Shah and Smith’s charges carry a maximum sentence of 30 years for scamming ten or more people over the age of 55, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. 

Shah is also the wife of University of Utah assistant football coach Sharrieff Shah.

This story is breaking and will be updated.