If convicted, Shahnaz faces a maximum of 30 years for the bank fraud charge and 20 years on each count money laundering count. With that, she bought US$62,000 worth of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which can offer owners anonymity in transfers and payments.
After allegedly swindling the financial institutions out of the money, Shahnaz proceeded with the conversion of that money into bitcoin and similar currencies, which were then moved to overseas funds and laundered in order to support the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), the DOJ press release stated.
USA prosecutors have charged a NY woman with using Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies to send funds to the Islamic State group. "Shahnaz, a U.S citizen, was arrested yesterday, and her initial arraignment is scheduled for this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson".
Shahnaz's lawyer pushed back on the charges, saying that she was only looking to help Syrian refugees she had met while volunteering in Jordan at the Syrian American Medical Society. Specifically, Shahnaz obtained a loan for approximately $22,500 by way of materially false representations. They say the Brentwood woman then wired more than $150,000 to individuals and shell entities in Pakistan, China and Turkey.
After conducting these transactions, Shahnaz tried to travel to Syria herself.
Thee scheme was devised to "avoid transaction reporting requirements, hide the identity, source and destination of the illicitly obtained monies, and, ultimately, benefit ISIS", according to the Justice Department. Prosecutors say this is a "common point of entry" for people hailing from western countries attempting to join IS, according to the DOJ press release. A month later she attempted to get on a flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport with the intention to leave the USA and join ISIS.