Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that earlier today, JENNIFER SHAH pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Jennifer Shah was a key participant in a nationwide scheme that targeted elderly, vulnerable victims. These victims were sold false promises of financial security but instead Shah and her co-conspirators defrauded them out of their savings and left them with nothing to show for it. This Office is committed to rooting out these schemes whatever form they take.”
According to the allegations in the Superseding Indictment, and statements made during the plea and other proceedings in the case:
From 2012 until March 2021, JENNIFER SHAH, together with others (collectively, the “Participants”) carried out a wide-ranging telemarketing scheme that defrauded hundreds of victims (the “Victims”) throughout the United States, many of whom were over age 55, by selling those Victims so-called “business services” in connection with the Victims’ purported online businesses (the “Business Opportunity Scheme”).
In order to perpetrate the Business Opportunity Scheme, Participants, including SHAH, engaged in a widespread, coordinated effort to traffic in lists of potential victims, or “leads,” many of whom had previously made an initial investment to create an online business with other Participants in the Scheme.
SHAH, among other things, sold leads to other Participants for use by their telemarketing sales floors with the knowledge that the individuals they had identified as “leads” would be defrauded by the other Participants, including by lying to Victims about how much they would earn after purchasing the business services and the purported success of others who had purchased the services. SHAH received as profit a share of the fraudulent revenue per the terms of their agreement with those Participants. SHAH often controlled each aspect of the frauds perpetrated by other Participants on the individuals they had identified by, among other things, determining which “coaching” sales floor could buy leads from them, selecting the downstream sales floors to which the “coaching” sales floor was permitted to pass the leads, choosing the firms to provide “fulfillment” services, that is, documents and records purporting to demonstrate that the services the Participants claimed to provide to those Victims were actual and legitimate, setting how much the downstream sales floors could charge, and determining which “products” each of the downstream sales floors could sell.
In approximately 2017, SHAH began operating a Manhattan-based sales floor that sold downstream “business opportunity” products to victims on lead lists provided by the defendant as part of the Business Opportunity Scheme (the “Manhattan Sales Floor”). Between 2018 and 2020, SHAH controlled the day-to-day operations of the Manhattan Sales Floor. Among other things, SHAH, with other Participants, moved certain operations for the Manhattan Sales Floor to Kosovo to avoid law enforcement and regulatory scrutiny. The salespeople at the Manhattan Sales Floor engaged in the same fraudulent sales practices as other telemarketing floors in the Business Opportunity Scheme: namely, lying to and misleading Victims into purchasing “business opportunity” products to ostensibly advance their non-existent online businesses.
SHAH undertook significant efforts to conceal her role in the Business Opportunity Scheme. For example, SHAH, among other things, incorporated her business entities using third parties’ names and instructed other Participants to do the same, used and directed others to use encrypted messaging applications to communicate with other Participants, and made numerous cash withdrawals structured to avoid currency transaction reporting requirements.
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SHAH, 48, of Park City, Utah, pled guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with telemarketing through which she victimized 10 or more persons over the age of 55, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. As part of her guilty plea, SHAH also agreed to forfeit $6.5 million and to pay restitution up to $9.5 million.
The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as SHAH’s sentence will be determined by the judge.
SHAH is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein on November 28, 2022.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of HSI’s El Dorado Task Force.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Kiersten A. Fletcher, Benet J. Kearney, Robert B. Sobelman, and Sheb Swett are in charge of the prosecution.
If you believe you have been a victim of the scheme described above, including a victim entitled to restitution, and you wish to provide information to law enforcement and/or receive notice of future developments in the case or additional information, please contact Wendy Olsen-Clancy, the Victim Witness Coordinator at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, at 866-874-8900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.