Published: Fri, December 15, 2017
Finance | By Claude Patterson

NY woman charged with using bitcoin to launder money to ISIS

NY woman charged with using bitcoin to launder money to ISIS

Those cards were then used to purchase bitcoin and other unnamed cryptocurrencies, which were subsequently laundered back into the banks prior to being wired out.

Shahnaz pleaded not guilty on Thursday before US Magistrate Judge Kathleen Tomlinson in Central Islip, New York, according to John Marzulli, a spokesman for Rohde's office.

However, the woman's lawyer, Steve Zissou, said that she was donating the money to help Syrian refugees.

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

"Syria is a perilous and violent war-torn country, but the subject in this investigation was allegedly so determined to assist ISIS that she planned a covert, illegal entry into Syria", said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney in a statement.

Prosecutors say the former lab technician fraudulently obtained more than $85,000 through a bank loan and credit cards to buy bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies online. "On top of which, she allegedly tried to launder virtual currency to bolster terrorists' dwindling financial support".

Prosecutors said Shahnaz, a US citizen, lied to obtain a $22,500 loan and fraudulently applied for more than 12 credit cards to buy Bitcoin and other currencies over the internet.

"These transactions were motivated to benefit ISIS, which the defendant ultimately sought to join in Syria", the documents said. After the transactions were sent, according to the statement, Shahnaz was questioned by law enforcement while attempting to travel to Syria from NY. But her itinerary also included a multi-day layover in Istanbul, Turkey - which is a common point of entry for people travelling from Western countries to join ISIS in Syria, the DoJ said.

At this time, it's unclear based on the available information if any bitcoin was sent overseas by Shahnaz.

If convicted, Shahnaz could face a maximum of 30 years for bank fraud and 20 years on each count of money laundering.

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