NY woman laundered bitcoin to aide Islamic State

18 December, 2017, 01:07 | Author: Katrina Soto
  • The Alfonse M. D Amato District Court House

According to a five-count indictment, unsealed Thursday (14 December), prosecutors said the suspect, USA citizen Zoobia Shahnaz, was caught attempting to leave the country. The government says Shahnaz was detained on July 31 at John F. Kennedy airport as she was headed to Pakistan by way of Istanbul, from where they believe she meant to enter Syria and join ISIS.

According to Justice Department court filings, the defendant used more than a dozen credit cards - six of which allegedly were fraudulently obtained - to buy approximately $62,700 in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

The Justice Department says Shahnaz then began transferring money overseas to support ISIS, while taking measures to disguise the nature and objective of the funds and avoid transaction reporting requirements.

It added: "These transactions were created to avoid transaction reporting requirements, hide the identity, source and destination of the illicitly obtained monies, and, ultimately, benefit ISIS". The entire scheme is believed to have taken place between March 2017 and August 2017. Upon inspection her electronic devices were found to contain searches for Isis material.

Her lawyer says she was sending money to help Syrian refugees. According to the New York Daily News, she was intercepted at JFK with $9,500 in cash on her person and a travel itinerary to Islamabad, Pakistan, with a layover in Turkey - a common flight plan for people attempting to enter Syria from Turkey to link up with ISIS forces.

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"The defendant defrauded numerous financial institutions and obtained over $85,000 in illicit proceeds, which she converted to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies", the DOJ explained in a statement.

The U.S. Attorney's Office of the Eastern District of NY charged Zoobia Shahnaz, 27, with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and three substantive counts of money laundering. The FBI New York Joint Terrorism Task Force kept this woman from her risky and potentially deadly goal.

A Long Island woman was indicted Thursday after she allegedly laundered more than $85,000 through Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies overseas to the Islamic State.

She was arrested and charged with bank fraud and four counts of money laundering, Acting US Attorney Bridget Rohde said in a statement. The government says Shahnaz converted the cryptocurrencies back to US dollars and deposited the funds into a checking account in her name.

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