A Long Island woman was busted sending tens of thousands of dollars worth of Bitcoins to ISIS fighters overseas — after swindling money from banks using bogus information.
Zoobi Shahnaz, 27, of Brentwood allegedly then planned to flee the US for Syria, but was stopped at JFK airport. She was arrested Wednesday and charged with bank fraud and four counts of money laundering, Acting US Attorney Bridget Rohde said in a statement.
“As alleged, the defendant Zoobia Shahnaz engaged in a bank fraud scheme, purchased Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and laundered money overseas, intending to put thousands of dollars into the coffers of terrorists,” Rohde said.
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, according to the district attorney’s office.
She then wired the digital currency to individuals and shell entities in Pakistan, China and Turkey that were ultimately destined for the terrorist organization.
Shahnaz last year traveled 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.
Investigators also found that she’d previously visited web pages of known ISIS recruiters, financiers and fighters, articles about women fighting for ISIS — including one entitled “Islamic State: Who are the Top Female Jihadis” — and Googled “medical students ISIS,” according to the documents.
Shahnaz faces a maximum of 30 years for the bank fraud charge and 20 years on each count money laundering count.