Why was Jen Shah arrested while filming Season 2 of 'Real Housewives of Salt Lake City'?
The reality star has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and also a conspiracy to commit money laundering
When fans first saw the extravagant and over-the-top lifestyle of 'Real Housewives of Salt Lake City' star Jen Shah, they were all curious to know more about what she did, while also wondering how exactly was she able to afford such a lavish lifestyle while her husband was just a football assistant coach at the University of Utah. It looks like we are finally getting some answers on where the reality star was getting her money from.
The 47-year-old reality star was arrested on Tuesday, March 30, and charged in connection with a telemarketing scheme that defrauded several people, most of who are above the age of 55, according to a superseding indictment that was unsealed earlier this week. Shah was arrested alongside her 'first assistant' Stuart Smith.
Why was Jen Shah arrested?
The reality star and her assistant Stuart have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing and also a conspiracy to commit money laundering. Both Shah and her 43-year-old assistant will be appearing before US Judge Dustin Pead in Salt Lake City federal court, according to a news release from the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. If found guilty, the duo could potentially be sentenced to up to 50 years in prison as the maximum sentence for conspiracy to commit wire fraud is 30 years while conspiracy to commit money laundering comes with a maximum of 20 years sentence. There's still no information about whether Shah and Stuart have obtained any attorneys to represent them.
The New York Police Department revealed that the number of victims duped by the duo stands in the 'hundreds', while also adding that this scam has been operational for nearly a decade since its inception in 2012 and ran until this March. According to the indictment, Shah and Stuart "sold alleged services purporting to make the management of victims' businesses more efficient or profitable." The release mentioned services such as tax preparation, website design services, etc, to its elderly victims, who interestingly enough didn't even own a computer.
The scheme also included Shah and Stuart allegedly trafficking the list of potential victims, who they referred to as "leads". Many of these "leads" had already made an investment to create an online business with other participants of the scheme. The duo was extremely smart when it came to covering their tracks, and reportedly "undertook significant efforts" to hide their role in this fraud scheme. Their efforts included setting up business entities using third-party names and also using encrypted messaging apps to communicate with other members, etc.
Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh explained how Shah and her agent "allegedly built their opulent lifestyle at the expense of vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people", as they continued to flaunt their "lavish lifestyle to the public as a symbol of their 'success," reported Fox News.
Shah's Bravo bio describes her as "the queen of her house and her businesses." During the show's reunion, Andy Cohen asked her to explain what exactly she did for a living, as many fans were very curious to know more about it. To which Jen explained that she was in the business of marketing. "My background is in direct response marketing for about 20 years, so our company does advertising," she said in response. "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."
Shah isn't the first housewife to get in trouble with the law over money laundering and wire fraud charges. 'Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice too was charged with similar crimes and was sentenced to 15 months in prison, although she was released just after 11.5 months.
Season 2 of 'RHOSLC' is currently under production. So, we might get a chance to see how the whole event plays out hopefully on the upcoming season of the Bravo's popular reality show.