‘I was stupid enough to get caught in a scam, and I’m not stupid’: RHOSLC star Jen Shah’s victims describe being duped out of THOUSANDS – with one now unable to afford to take care of herself and another forced into bankruptcy
- Tricia, 75, said she went in a ‘deep depression’ and didn’t have money for care
- Molly McLaughlin, 44, estimates she spent $44,000 on telemarketing scheme
- Shah, 49, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in July
- She will serve six-and-a-half years in federal prison in a facility in Texas
Jen Shah, 49, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in July in a dramatic defense U-Turn. She must present herself to be taken to prison on February 17, and will serve six-and-a-half years in federal prison at a facility in Texas.
One victim, a 75-year-old woman named Tricia, said on Good Morning America Thursday, ‘I’m telling the world I was stupid enough to get caught in a scam, and I’m not stupid person.’
She didn’t share her last name, saying the shame of having lost half of her life savings to Shah’s telemarketing scheme, which mainly targeted elderly individuals, was too embarrassing.
Two victims of Jen Shah’s telemarketing scheme – a 75-year-old who only gave her first name Tricia and 44-year-old Molly McLaughlin – spoke out about the shame and despair they felt from having been duped
Shah, 49, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in July in a dramatic defense U-Turn. She must present herself to be taken to prison on February 17, and will serve her term in a facility in Texas
Tricia told Good Morning America Thursday she thought Shah’s scheme was helping her to start an online business until the FTC called to say she had been duped.
‘I mean, I was shellshocked, but it turned out to be true,’ Tricia said, adding that she is recovering from a ‘deep depression’ due to the ordeal. ‘You get to a point where there is no way out. I don’t have the money to take care of myself.’
Molly McLaughlin, 44, told ABC News that she’d been hoodwinked out of tens of thousands of dollars by Shah.
‘I probably spent about $44,000 on six credit cards. All, of course, went into bankruptcy because I couldn’t afford to pay that.’
Shah, a mother-of-two, ran the nationwide telemarketing scheme that targeted mainly elderly individuals all while appearing as a real housewife on the show’s latest iteration.
The reality star sobbed as she read a statement to the court on January 6th, claiming her TV persona was nothing more than an act. She vowed to raise $6.5million in restitution to make victims’ lives whole, and said she intended to do so from prison.
She claimed she had ‘longstanding untreated mental issues’ that caused her to ‘create her own reality’.
Shah and her husband Sharrieff emerge from court on January 6. She must report to the Bureau of Prisons on February 17
Jen Shah leaves in Manhattan Federal Court after being sentenced to 78 months in prison for fraud
Reality TV star Jen Shah arrives at court in New York City to be sentenced for wire fraud
But prosecutors showed no mercy, telling the court how Shah had once laughed about the fact that one of her victims had called the company in tears over the fact that she was losing all her money.
They read aloud a text Shah sent to one of her colleagues in which she said: ‘Did you get her to stop crying?’
Shah and her colleagues fraudulently collected and then sold lead lists to other companies. A person on such a list would then be lured into a never-ending payment or subscription service which they couldn’t, or didn’t know how to, get out of.
One of the schemes offered business coaching that never materialized to victims who were not technologically savvy.
Federal prosecutors sought a prison term of 10 years for Shah while her attorneys suggested she should serve three.
Judge Sidney Stein warned Shah at the start of today’s hearing that the sentence would be somewhere in between the two.
‘I think a variance below 130 months will be appropriate. But I do not intend to sentence Ms. Shah to 36 months, either. So it will be sometime between the two,’ Judge Stein said.
At the top of the proceedings, the judge told the courtroom to ignore the ‘role’ Shah plays on the Bravo series that made her famous.
Shah claimed she had ‘longstanding untreated mental issues’ that caused her to ‘create her own reality’ – a defense the judge did not buy
The reality star (third from right) calimed in court that her TV persona was nothing more than an act. She vowed to raise $6.5million in restitution for her many victims
‘Jen Shah’s role on the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, which I guess is why the courtroom is so full today, is just that, a role.
‘People should not confuse the character she plays on an entertainment show to the person before me. Alright,’ she said.
Shah’s attorney, Priya Chaudhry, started by introducing the court to who had ‘traveled’ to support her; her husband, two sons, cousin, mother-in-law – and her therapist.
She was slapped down by the judge when she mentioned the fact that Shah never spoke to any of her victims.
‘She was too important to talk to the victims. She was a leader of this conspiracy. So this cuts against you, not for you,’ the judge quipped.
The 49-year-old is one of the most bombastic characters in the Bravo series she stars in
Police seized dozens of counterfeit bags and pieces of jewelry from Shah’s home
Chaudhry then tried to appeal to the judge’s sympathies, saying Shah ‘grew up poor’.
‘Jen has spent months reading the names of those she has hurt. She has prayed for their forgiveness. But she cannot forgive herself. Jen understands she cannot undo the pain or repay them today – but today is about justice for them. Measuring the pain,’ she said.
Shah, one of the most bombastic characters in her franchise of the Bravo reality TV series, denied any wrongdoing for months.
She dramatically changed her plea in July following the guilty plea of her former assistant, Stuart Smith. As part of the case, Shah forfeited dozens of genuine and counterfeit designer bags and counterfeit jewelry.
There were dozens of fake Chanel and Hermes bags on the list.
Shah, one of the most bombastic characters in her franchise of the Bravo reality TV series, denied any wrongdoing for months
Shah, who is married with two kids, proudly presented herself as a spendthrift on the Bravo show.
She boasted about spending $80,000 on a friend’s birthday party and would frequently refer to her ‘Shah squad’.
Her husband, Sharrieff Shah, is a football coach for the University of Washington. He was not with Shah as she entered court today, but was inside with their two sons for the sentencing.
In their sentencing motion to the court, prosecutors gave a blistering description of Shah’s crimes.
‘For nearly a decade, the defendant was an integral leader of a wide-ranging, nationwide telemarketing fraud scheme that victimized thousands of innocent people. Many of those people were elderly or vulnerable.
Shah’s Instagram feed is full of photos of herself in various designer brands. This one shows her holding a different Chanel bag that is described in the court doc as a counterfeit ‘Chanel’ PVC handbag with sand inside, with gold and pearl chain strap, and gold hardware
Shah owned dozens of phony luxury items including bags and jewelry federal authorities seized during the raid
Federal authorities took possession of all of the items amid a raid on the Bravo personality’s home in March of 2021 in the probe into her fraud case
‘Many of those people suffered significant financial hardship and damage.
‘At the defendant’s direction, victims were defrauded over and over again until they had nothing left.
‘She and her co-conspirators persisted in their conduct until the victims’ bank accounts were empty, their credit cards were at their limits, and there was nothing more to take.
‘Despite the defendant’s best efforts, she got caught. She then went on a public offensive and tried to profit off the charges by selling ‘Justice for Jen’ merchandise. She pled guilty at the eleventh hour, only after receiving the Government’s trial exhibits and witness statements.
‘In light of her conduct and her post-arrest behavior, her belated expressions of remorse ring hollow,’ US Attorney Damian Williams wrote.
Shah’s storyline originally centered around her converting to Islam for her football-coach husband, who admitted his ‘heart stopped’ when he realized that his wife had been arrested
After proclaiming her innocence for months, Shah (above) withdrew her non-guilty plea, accepted ‘full responsibility’ for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and agreed to forfeit $6.5 million and pay $9.5 million in restitution
In their sentencing motion to the court, prosecutors gave a blistering description of Shah’s crimes
They slammed Shah for not only claiming publicly to be innocent, but for also ‘mocking’ the case with comments such as ‘the only thing I’m guilty of is being Shah-mazing.’
She had been facing a maximum of 20 years per charge if the case had gone to trial.
If sentenced to 10 years, she may be released within five.
Shah’s attorneys has asked for a term of three years.
‘We submit that such a sentence is just and fair because it takes into account Ms. Shah’s history and characteristics, the facts and circumstances of the offense, and meets that a court impose a sentence that is ‘not greater than necessary’ to achieve the goals of punishment,’ her lawyer Priya Chaudhry wrote in a December filing.
Shah is accused of running various schemes to defraud her victims.
One included selling them fictitious business coaching classes, which prosecutors say was nothing more than a scam.
The victims never ended up receiving the coaching or business gains that was promised, but were told to keep coughing up money for classes.
Shah is also accused of targeting victims directly herself by running a ‘sales floor’.