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Nuclear Engineer, Arrested for Selling Classified Data for Crypto

  • Undercover FBI agents arrested a nuclear engineer for selling classified data.
  • The engineer asked for tens of thousands worth of crypto in exchange for the data.
  • The FBI arrested the engineer and his wife for espionage and selling restricted data.

In West Virginia, the FBI arrested a nuclear engineer and his wife for espionage and selling restricted data. Undercover FBI agents paid the couple tens of thousands worth of crypto in exchange for the SD card containing the data.

In detail, the couple sold information about the designs of nuclear-powered warships. An undercover FBI agent pretended to be a representative of a foreign nation for a year to make this happen. Moreover, to end the deal, the FBI agent paid the couple with crypto for the restricted data obtained.

According to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland,

The complaint charges a plot to transmit information relating to the design of our nuclear submarines to a foreign nation.

The couple, Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, were apprehended last October 9 by the FBI and the NCIS. On Tuesday, both of them will face the federal court.

Actually, Jonathan Toebbe served in the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program as a nuclear engineer before. In addition, he held an active national security clearance via the U.S. Department of Defense.

According to reports, the FBI raised suspicions on Toebbe when he was caught sending a package that contained sample data and instructions regarding establishing covert comms, as well as purchasing more information. This happened last April 2020.

Furthermore, last June 2021, the FBI agent sent Toebbe undisclosed crypto worth $10,000. The agent said that he sent this as a “good faith payment” after receiving some sample data. The couple, on the other hand, used a “dead drop” to hide the SD card and put it inside a peanut butter sandwich. The undercover agent further paid $20,000 in crypto, this time, for the decryption keys.

For the second dead drop, the FBI asked Toebbe again for further data about the U.S. nuclear submarines. Here, the FBI paid around $70,000 worth of crypto to Toebbe, and finally, the FBI nabbed the couple on the third dead drop.

To note, this isn’t the first time that U.S federal agencies used crypto as a part of investigations on criminal activities. In fact, last August, the U.S department started giving compensations in crypto as rewards for Justice. This is in exchange for information that is relevant in capturing high-ranking terrorism suspects.

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