While Satoshi had good intentions in mind when developing Bitcoin, and subsequently the Blockchain, the same cannot be said of bad actors who have taken advantage of the decentralized and pseudo-anonymous aspects of the cryptocurrency.
In the latest story of bitcoin-related crime, Zoobia Shahnaz, a 27-year-old Pakistani-U.S woman residing in Brentwood, Long Island has been charged with multiple allegations of bank fraud, conspiracy and money laundering activities.
According to Ars Technica, the accused Shahnaz had used 16 credit cards that were acquired illegally to purchase approximately $63,000 worth of bitcoin and other altcoins between June and July 2017.
As reported, Shahnaz had allegedly taken a $22,500 loan from a local Manhattan bank in June 2017. Shahnaz then proceeded to send the money to suspected terrorist members in China, Pakistan, and Turkey.
To further confirm that she sent the money to members of ISIS, the U.S authorities stated the suspect accessed ISIS and Jihad related websites, social media pages of known ISIS recruiters and facilitators while trying to transfer the lump sum.
Prosecutors claim the accused woman had also looked up ISIS-controlled locations, as well as “ISIS recruiters, financiers, and fighters, including those who have urged lone-wolf attacks against American targets.”
Her defense claims that the accussed was helping raise money for Syrian refugees. Shahnaz’s attorney said to NPR, “As a health care professional, in 2016, Ms. Shahnaz was a volunteer with the Syrian American Medical Society assisting other health care providers in delivering lifesaving medical care to Syrian refugees. She witnessed the suffering of the refugees firsthand. Her humanitarian efforts then and since were motivated by her commitment to helping alleviate the plight of the people in the Middle East.”
Following the Evidence
Shahnaz reportedly resigned from her lab technician job in June 2017 and got a Pakistani passport in preparation to travel abroad. In July, the accused attempted to fly to Pakistan to potentially finalize her ISIS ambitions via the J.F. Kennedy International airport.
She was detained and questioned by the U.S federal officials and could not give clear and precise explanations about her suspicious financial activity. Officials claimed that she gave “false and conflicting explanations” as to her plans to travel to Pakistan. If found guilty, Shahnaz looks at charges of 20 years for money laundering and 30 years of bank fraud.
While bitcoin is trying to promote financial sovereignty, individuals have manipulated the technology for illegal activities. It is also for this reason that many skeptics surrounding the community continue to discredit the digital money. At current, charges have been filed, and the suspect remains in custody.