Operatives working for the self-proclaimed Islamic State allegedly used fake eBay transactions to move their money, according to a recently unsealed FBI affidavit first reported on by The Wall Street Journal.
An American citizen, Mohamed Elshinawy, received a total of $8,700 from individuals associated with ISIS through PayPal, after he pretended to sell them computer printers on eBay, according to a 2016 indictment.
In a statement, eBay said Elshinaway was not on a watch list, and his sale of two printers on the site did not appear suspicious at the time.
“When law enforcement notified us that it was investigating this individual for suspected illegal activity, we partnered closely with them to bring this person to justice,” the statement said. “We have zero tolerance for criminal activity on eBay and have robust systems in place to identify and prevent it.”
Elshinawy told investigators he was to use the money for “operational purposes” such as a terror attack. Some of the cash was spent on a laptop, a cellphone, and software to set up a virtual private network that can mask a user’s internet usage, which the FBI believed was so he could communicate with ISIS operatives overseas, the Journal reported.
The case highlights the difficulties in tracking the finances of terror groups, which have taken to using alternatives to banks. ISIS has raised money through crowdfunding websites, social media fundraisers, and prepaid cards, according to a 2015 report from an international task force that investigates and combats money laundering and terror financing.
PayPal and eBay both told the Journal they were working with law enforcement on the case.
This article was updated on Aug. 11 at 10:30 a.m. PDT with a statement from eBay.