Long Island woman laundered money to ISIS through Bitcoin, prosecutors say


U.S. prosecutors have charged a NY woman with using Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies to send funds to the Islamic State group.

Shahnaz allegedly meant to "put thousands of dollars into the coffers of terrorists", Acting U.S. Attorney for the Easter District of New York Bridget Rohde said in a statement.

Prosecutors say 27-year-old Zoobia Shahnaz was charged with bank fraud and money laundering in an indictment unsealed in Central Islip on Thursday. "Shahnaz, a U.S citizen, was arrested yesterday", the statement continued.

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

In June, Shahnaz quit her job as a lab technician at a Manhattan hospital, and obtained a Pakistani passport.

Her lawyer, Steve Zissou, said she was sending money overseas to help Syrian refugees.

Officials say that between approximately March and July 31, the date of a her failed attempt to travel to Syria, Shahnaz fraudulently obtained a loan for about $22,500. After the transactions were sent, according to the statement, Shahnaz was questioned by law enforcement while attempting to travel to Syria from NY.

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.

If convicted, Shahnaz could face a maximum of 30 years for bank fraud and 20 years on each count of money laundering. In May and June of this year, according to the documents, she read articles about women joining and fighting of ISIS, accessed maps of locations along the Turkey-Syria border and cities inside ISIS-controlled territory, Googled phrases such as "medical students ISIS" and "how much overdraft can I get", and watched videos of ISIS members urging Muslims to carry out attacks in Western countries.