The arraignment, which was held virtually in Manhattan federal court, came after Shah and her assistant Stuart Smith were arrested Tuesday.
Shah and Smith have been accused of scamming hundreds of people — many of whom were older adults — out of money through a telemarketing fraud scheme.
According to federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, Shah and Smith would generate and sell “‘lead lists’ of innocent individuals for other members of their scheme to repeatedly scam.” They would then sell “business services” to the victims, such as “tax preparation or website design services” — despite the fact that “many victims were elderly and did not own a computer.”
“At no point did the defendants intend that the Victims would actually earn any of the promised return on their intended investment, nor did the Victims actually earn any such returns,” the indictment states.
The scheme began in 2012 and continued until March, according to the indictment.
“Shah and Smith flaunted their lavish lifestyle to the public as a symbol of their ‘success,’” Peter C. Fitzhugh, the special agent in charge of the investigation for the Department of Homeland Security, said in a statement. “In reality, they allegedly built their opulent lifestyle at the expense of vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people.”
In court on Friday, Shah and Smith were released on $1 million bond each, to be secured through $250,000 in cash or property, as well as signatures of two financially responsible individuals, after pleading not guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit laundering.
The judge also deemed Shah to be a flight risk, and ordered her to surrender any passports or travel documents. She will not be permitted to travel between states except for court appearances and meetings with her attorney.