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Celebrity Slam - Real Housefraud of Salt Lake City

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It probably will come as no surprise to those of you reading this space that we’re often gifted with an embarrassment of potential riches. Sure, there’s the occasional dry week where we have to reach, but for the most part, we’ve got plenty to choose from. Because here’s the thing: Famous people do stupid stuff ALL THE TIME.

This has led to us developing a sort-of system for determining which item to choose to run with in a given week. It’s not particularly complex – there’s some wiggle room, but it basically boils down to striking the balance between degree of fame and audacity of offense. The more famous you are, the less egregious your misdeed needs to be to get you into the conversation. The inverse is also true – the less famous, the more outlandish your antics must be to warrant discussion.

And sometimes, you get a weird one that might not necessarily hit all the marks, but is just ridiculous enough to land here in Celebrity Slam.

This brings us to a recent story involving Jen Shah, one of the stars of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” one of the more inexplicable installments in the network’s somehow-still-growing collection of reality shows starring scads of interchangeable terrible people whose sole “accomplishment” is being rich.

Well, as it turns out, Shah’s money might have some questionable provenance. To wit, she was arrested recently and charged with a number of financial crimes, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.

Shah and her first assistant (whatever that means) Levi Smith stand accused of conspiring to defraud older and computer-unsavvy people by operating multi-state telemarketing and in-person sales teams intended to peddle non-existent services, then fighting any and all consumer efforts to obtain refunds.

In some of the scathing statements in the Justice Department’s release, a Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent-in-Charge said that Shah and Smith “flaunted their lavish lifestyle to the public as a symbol of their ‘success,’ but instead allegedly built their opulent lifestyle at the expense of vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people.”


Look, we have no illusions about the virtuousness of reality television stars. Anyone who is both offered a position as a “Real Housewife of Whatever” and is willing to accept said position is almost certainly already a fundamentally awful human being. That goes without saying – anyone willing to live a life of performative consumption and meaningless conflict simply to be a D-list celebrity is a garbage pile. These are not good people.

But there’s “insulting someone’s face lift after three martinis” not good and there’s “ripping off old people to finance an over-the-top lifestyle” not good. That’s a real difference, even if the folks at Bravo might not be as worried about it.

Perhaps the most hilarious part about this is that not only is this not the first time that a Real Housewife has gotten in trouble with the law, it’s not even the first time that a Real Housewife has been ARRESTED FOR FRAUD. A few years back, Teresa Giudice of “Real Housewives of New Jersey” fame wound up actually going to jail for her crimes, serving about a year (writing a best-seller immediately afterward, so she definitely learned her lesson) while her husband and co-conspirator Joe did four years and then got deported to Italy.

Looks like Bravo’s got a type, yes?

There’s a lot wrong with this, of course – defrauding the vulnerable is undeniably s----y – but we’re not here to condemn the illegality of Shah’s actions. We do, obviously – again, undeniably s----y – but that’s just evil, not Slammable.

No, we’re here to make fun of this woman for being so shockingly dumb that she actually thought she’d get away with all of this. Granted, she DID get away with it for a while; the indictment includes incidents dating from 2012 to this year. But here’s the thing – the majority of that time didn’t involve her BEING ON TELEVISION FLAUNTING THE FRUITS OF HER FRAUD. Can you imagine being so self-absorbed that you don’t consider that being on TV might bring added scrutiny to various aspects of your life?

A word of advice for any current fraudsters/aspiring reality stars out there: Once you land the TV gig, you should probably stop stealing old people’s Social Security.

Last modified on Tuesday, 06 April 2021 07:59


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