Woman pleads guilty for supporting ISIS, involving crypto and multiple bank scams

27 Nov, 2018 | Updated: 27 Nov, 2018
by Fifi Arisandi
Woman pleads guilty for supporting ISIS, involving crypto and multiple bank scams

A young New York woman who is accused of supporting ISIS and conducting scams to multiple banks is facing up to 20 years in prison.

A woman, named Zoobia Shahnaz pleaded guilty to the accusations of supporting terrorist group, ISIS with the money she had from scamming multiple banks.

According to CNBC, the 27-year old who resides in Long Island, New York admitted of transferring over $150,000 to overseas bank accounts that are owned by people and entities related to ISIS in 2017.

The court document stated that Shahnaz, who then worked as a lab technician in Manhattan, traveled to Jordan to volunteer with the Syrian American Medical Society in January 2016.

During the 2-weeks mission, she helped by providing medical aid to Syrian refugees in Amman and in the Zataari Refugee camp that had been affected severely by the ISIS.

After she got back home from the mission, the court document stated that she started a plan to scam multiple banks, such as Chase Bank, TD Bank, American Express and Discover.

Shahnaz managed to get credit cards from the aforementioned banks, along with at least 10 more from other banks and used them all to purchase more than $62,703 in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from crypto exchanges.

She also applied for a loan from Bank of Manhattan and managed to obtain as many as $22,500.

After successfully getting all the money, she was reported to make multiple wire transfers overseas, which was followed by her quitting job, obtaining a Pakistani passport and preparing for another trip to Syria.

Shahnaz was arrested at JFK airport on July 31st, 2017 by law enforcement agents, who had been watching over her financial activities, before boarding to an airplane bound for Turkey.

She told them she was going to Istanbul for holiday purposes, however, when she was confronted regarding the wire transfers she made earlier, she was said to provide ‘false and conflicting’ explanations.

The investigation to her online activities also revealed that she had spent her time searching for information about ISIS, its recruiters and financiers, while also being reported of accessing maps for locations along the Turkey-Syria border and cities, which fell under ISIS’ territory.

Shahnaz was detained without bail after her arrest and charged for providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, which made her face up to 20 years in prison.

The use of cryptocurrency to fund terrorist organizations is feared by many parties, although experts from the US Congress subcommitte on Terrorism and Illicit Finance claimed the efforts haven't been successful, thus far. 

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