U.S. Treasury sanctions Gaza-based crypto broker alleged to have facilitated $25 million in crypto transactions since 2015

Israeli authorities had seized wallets associated with the broker as early has 2021.

Cover art/illustration via CryptoSlate

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has sanctioned  Gaza-based crypto broker “Buy Cash Money and Money Transfer Company (Buy Cash)” and its operator, Ahmed M. M. Alaqad, for facilitating crypto transactions for Hamas, according to an Oct. 18 statement.

Buy Cash is a Gaza-based business that provides money transfer and cryptocurrency exchange services, including Bitcoin (BTC) and other assets, that has had ties to several terrorist groups since 2017.

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The company’s domain, registered in July 2015, is linked to Alaqad, who serves as its representative and the proprietor of the financial exchange.

In 2021, Israel’s National Bureau for Counter-Terrorist Financing (NBCTF) seized a crypto wallet associated with Buy Cash, which Hamas had employed for fundraising purposes. This action followed a 2019 Bitcoin transaction traced back to Al-Qa’ida-related groups and a Buy Cash wallet. Furthermore, in 2017, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) utilized Buy Cash wallets to acquire specific online resources.

Data from the blockchain analytical platform Arkham Intelligence showed that the brokerage’s sanctioned BTC wallet “19D1iGzDr” held only $16 worth of assets as of press time, and its last transaction was in May 2022.

Meanwhile, an Elliptic report revealed the existence of additional addresses that the firm has used to facilitate over $25 million in cryptocurrency transactions since 2015.

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It should be noted that the regulator also sanctioned five other individuals linked to helping fund Hamas and Palestinian terrorist groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Clampdown on Hamas crypto activity 

The OFAC’s sanctions are part of a broader international effort to restrict Hamas’s financial resources, with various regulatory bodies taking similar actions.

Earlier in the week, stablecoin issuer Tether (USDT) said it froze 32 addresses associated with the conflicts in Israel and Ukraine. The firm reported that approximately $873,118.34 worth of crypto assets were frozen from these addresses.

Additionally, the Israeli police, with support from Binance, have successfully frozen cryptocurrency accounts used by Hamas for fundraising.

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Author: Oluwapelumi Adejumo

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