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'Real Housewives' star Jen Shah arrested in fraud scheme

By Kyle Barnett
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"Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" star Jennifer Shah has been indicted in a fraud scheme. Photo courtesy of Jen Shah/Facebook<br>
"Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" star Jennifer Shah has been indicted in a fraud scheme. Photo courtesy of Jen Shah/Facebook

March 31 (UPI) -- Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jennifer Shah and her assistant, Stuart Smith, were indicted by the Department of Justice in a nationwide telemarketing fraud scheme.

According to complaints filed in New York District Court, the reality stars perpetrated a "business opportunity scheme" in which they sold several services, such as tax preparation and web design services, aimed to make the victims' businesses more efficient and profitable.

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"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. Now these defendants face time in prison for their alleged crimes," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a DOJ press release.

Most of the pair's alleged victims were over 55 years old and some do not even own computers, according to the press release.

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"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," Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said in the press release. "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."

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Shah and Smith allegedly earned profit shares per the terms of the fraudulent agreements.

They are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years imprisonment, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, which has a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

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Shah and Smith are expected to appear Wednesday at a virtual New York court hearing.

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

In the last season of Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, Shah was noted for her bad behavior, including an incident in which she threw a glass during an argument with a castmate.

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Series executive producer Andy Cohen said in January the show will return for a second season.

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