Shah to pay $6.6 million in restitution and forfeit $6.5 million for running nationwide telemarketing fraud scheme
Jennifer Shah, an Indian American cast member of Bravo’s Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, has been sentenced to 6 and 1/2 years in prison for running a nationwide telemarketing fraud scheme.
The ploy involved taking thousands of dollars from elderly and vulnerable people, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced on Jan 6.
Read: Indian American doctor pays $1,850,000 for healthcare fraud (January 10, 2023)
Shah, 49, had previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing. In addition to her prison stint, US District Judge Sidney H. Stein sentenced Shah to an additional five years of supervised release.
Stein also ordered her to pay more than $6.6 million in restitution and to forfeit $6.5 million, 30 luxury items and 78 counterfeit luxury items.
“With today’s sentence, Jennifer Shah finally faces the consequences of the many years she spent targeting vulnerable, elderly victims,” US Attorney Damian Williams stated.
“These individuals were lured in by false promises of financial security, but in reality, Shah and her co-conspirators defrauded them out of their savings and left them with nothing to show for it.”
“This conviction and sentence demonstrate once again that we will continue to vigorously protect victims of financial fraud and hold accountable those who engage in fraudulent schemes,” Williams said.
Priya Chaudhry, Shah’s attorney, said that the reality star “deeply regrets the mistakes that she has made and is profoundly sorry to the people she has hurt.”
“Jen has faith in our justice system, understands that anyone who breaks the law will be punished, and accepts this sentence as just,” Chaudhry stated. “Jen will pay her debt to society and when she is a free woman again, she vows to pay her debt to the victims harmed by her mistakes.”
Prosecutors say Shah played a lead role in the crime that targeted and victimized thousands of people across the country. The scheme lasted from 2012 until she and her assistant Stuart Smith were arrested in March 2021.
Victims of the fraud were convinced to invest in bogus business opportunities and spend money on services, such as web design help or tax preparation.
Many of those victims were elderly people, some of whom didn’t even own a computer, court documents say. Shah also intentionally sold contact information for those victims to others in the larger fraud ring.
The victims were targeted repeatedly until their bank accounts were empty, their credit cards were at their limits, and there was nothing more to take, prosecutors said. Shah turned around and used the money to spend lavishly on herself and her family.
She was not deterred by the Federal Trade Commission’s investigations or enforcement actions, nor by learning that dozens of her co-conspirators had been arrested by federal law enforcement, pled guilty for their roles in the scheme, and that two were convicted at trial.
Shah, prosecutors said, took a series of increasingly extravagant steps to conceal her criminal conduct from the authorities.
Read: Jennifer Shah, ‘Real Housewives’ Star, Sentenced in Fraud Scheme (January 6, 2022)
She directed others to lie, she put businesses and bank accounts in the name of others, she required payment in cash, she instructed others to delete text messages and electronic documents, she moved some of her operations overseas, and she tried to put computers and other evidence beyond the reach of investigators.
She also flaunted her wealth on the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, a reality show that follows affluent women and documents their drama. Season three aired on Bravo in September.