Real Housewives of Salt Lake City‘s Jen Shah was arrested by federal on March 30, 2021 in the middle of filming for the show for her alleged role in a 9-year multi-millionaire telemarketing fraud scheme. She was released within hours of her high-profile arrest that was shown as a preview during Episode One of Season Two of RHOSLC because the prosecutors did not ask for detention or bail. Her assistant Stuart Smith, who also appears on the show, was arrested along with other co-conspirators. She faces up to 50 years in prison if found guilty.
In June, Jen Shah filed to have her charges dismissed and to to suppress her post-arrest statements and the evidence seized in warrants. Jen Shah argued that she didn’t understand her Miranda rights at the time of her arrest because her contacts were dry, which lead to blurry vision which meant she couldn’t read the waiver she signed at the time.
On August 5, 2021 all of her motions were denied. U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein said that Jen Shah was involved in an alleged “extensive, long-running telemarketing fraud conspiracy that sold millions of dollars of essentially nonexistent services and products to elderly, unsophisticated consumers.” He wrote that her motion to dismiss didn’t deserve “even cursory scrutiny.”
Jen Shah’s trial will begin October 18, 2021 while The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City will be in full swing. She also has a pretrial-conference date on October 8, 2021.
The alleged scam ran from 2012-2021 and operated in five states, New York, New Jersey, Arizona, Nevada and Utah, and had a sales floor hub in Manhattan that was owned and operated by Jen’s assistant Stuart Smith.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a press release explaining the charges against Jen Shah:
“Jennifer Shah, who portrays herself as a wealthy and successful businessperson on ‘reality’ television, and Stuart Smith, who is portrayed as Shah’s ‘first assistant,’ allegedly generated and sold ‘lead lists’ of innocent individuals for other members of their scheme to repeatedly scam. 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.”
Jen Shah’s tagline this season is “The only thing I’m guilty of is being Shah-mazing.”
Jen’s cast mates have revealed that they didn’t really understand what Jen for a living, and the audience was left confused as well.
During the Season One reunion Jen was asked by Andy Cohen exactly how she got “so rich.” Jen replied a non-answer that implied she was involved in internet marketing and advertising that had something to do with algorithms and cookies.
“My background is in direct response marketing for about 20 years, so our company does, you know, advertising,” she said at the time. “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.”
If the allegations are true, this wasn’t what Jen’s marketing company actually did. The feds allege that Jen and her co-conspirators were getting predatory leads of vulnerable people and direct selling them products and services that didn’t exist. That’s a lot different than serving tailored internet advertisements based on a user’s online behavior and information, which Jen implied was her business model at the reunion.