‘Real Housewives’ scammer Jen Shah could face 14 years for scamming the elderly

For two seasons, Jennifer Shah shared her opulent lifestyle with the world as a cast member of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. But she left out one thing: She was also running a massive fraud that targeted vulnerable seniors.

It ended this week when the reality TV star pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering through a telemarketing scam, and faces millions of dollars in restitution and potentially serving more than a decade in prison.

Shah, who was arrested last year while Bravo’s second season was in production, sold ‘commercial services’ targeting people over 55, lied to them about how much they would earn with the services and “engaged in a widespread and coordinated effort to tamper with lists of potential victims,” ​​known as “leads,” according to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Although Shah lives in Utah, she started running a Manhattan-based ‘selling floor’ as part of the scam in 2017, then later moved it to Kosovo to evade law enforcement. , using encrypted messaging apps to cover his tracks, the Justice Department said.

His “first assistant” Stuart Smith, who appeared on the show, also pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme in November.

Shah had previously defended the business as legitimate. “My experience has been in direct response marketing for about 20 years, so our business is advertising,” she said on a reunion show in February 2021. “We have a platform that helps people acquire customers, so when you’re shopping online or on the internet, and something pops up, we have the algorithm that explains why you’re getting that ad. »

Under the plea deal announced on Monday, Shah could face up to 14 years in prison, according to Variety. She will be forced to give up $6.5 million and could pay up to nearly $10 million in compensation.

“Jennifer Shah played a key role in a nationwide program targeting elderly and vulnerable victims,” ​​Damien Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Manhattan, said in a statement. “These victims were sold false promises of financial security, but instead Shah and his co-conspirators swindled them out of their savings and gave them nothing to show for. This Office is committed to eradicating these schemes, whatever their form.

Shah, who is married to Sharrieff Shah, an assistant coach for the University of Utah football team, has apparently gotten the latest out of her Bravo co-stars by pleading guilty.

Jen Shah is apparently still on the show, with a source telling People the case “is a really big part of Jen’s story.”

“The producers don’t want us to stop following him now,” the source told People. “They will continue to film with her as long as they can, like they did with Teresa [Giudice]” the The Real Housewives of New Jersey star who served nearly a year in prison in 2015 after a fraud conviction.

Some members of the Real Housewives cast had defended her innocence up until the time she pleaded. “For those of you who may not know: I live in the United States of America,” friend and co-star Meredith Marks wrote on Instagram. “In the United States, you have the right to a trial and you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. guilty. »

Marks and fellow cast member Heather Gay were in New York when Shah pleaded guilty on Monday, according to the New York Post.

Bravo host Andy Cohen called Shah’s confession “pretty stunning” during his radio show on Tuesday.

“I am especially upset for his victims,” Cohen said. “I’m upset that she lied for so long and told me she was an example of someone wrongfully accused. »

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