NY woman uses bitcoin to launder money to ISIS

Jon Howard
December 17, 2017

"Shahnaz - a former lab tech at a Manhattan hospital - allegedly obtained her ill-gotten lucre by fooling banks into giving her a $22,500 loan and more than a dozen credit cards, which she used to purchase approximately $62,000 in cryptocurrencies online", the New York Post reports.

These were specifically created to "avoid transaction reporting requirements", hide the money's destination and "ultimately benefit Isis", the DoJ said. She allegedly converted money from credit cards into cryptocurrencies including bitcoin and transferred it overseas in support of ISIS.

Shahnaz bought cryptocurrency with the credit cards, converting it to USA dollars and then transferring it into a bank account in her name, court filings said.

The digital currency has been used by criminals to launder money.

A suburban NY hospital technician accused of using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to launder money meant for the militant group Islamic State was arrested on charges of money laundering in support of a foreign terrorist organization and bank fraud, prosecutors said Thursday.

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Shahnaz past year travelled to Jordan to volunteer with the Syrian American Medical Society, during which times she helped give medical aid to Syrian refugees in refugee camps where ISIS "exercises significant influence", according to court documents. "After consummating the scheme, the defendant attempted to leave the United States and travel to Syria".

Zoobia Shahnaz of Long Island, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of NY said today, has been charged with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and three counts of money laundering.

In January of 2016, she traveled to Jordan to volunteer with the Syrian American Medical Society, and provided medical aid to Syrian refugees in Amman and in a refugee camp where ISIS exercises significant influence. 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.

Her lawyer, Steve Zissou, claims she was sending money overseas to help Syrian refugees, reported the BBC.

She was questioned by law enforcement officials at the airport, since her itinerary was suspect. "Accordingly, she must be detained pending trial". "The defendant's return ticket had been booked for September 4, 2017 on a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to JFK". "The defendant presents an irremediable flight risk and an extreme danger to the community", prosecutors said in a court filing.

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