What just happened? A naval nuclear engineer and his wife have been accused of attempting to sell underwater technological secrets to another country in exchange for cryptocurrency. The FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) arrested Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, of Annapolis, Md., After the former attempted to sell information about the nuclear propulsion system of the Virginia-class attack submarines to what he thought to be a representative of a foreign government, but was in fact an undercover FBI agent.
A criminal complaint filed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) indicates that Toebbe, 42, worked on the naval nuclear propulsion program. His high-level national security clearance gave him access to information that rival nations would no doubt pay generously.
According to the complaint, on April 1, 2020, Jonathan sent a package to an anonymous foreign government indicating that he was interested in selling submarine operations manuals, performance reports and other sensitive information in exchange for $ 100,000 in cryptocurrency. “I apologize for the poor translation into your language. Please forward this letter to your military intelligence agency. I think this information will be of great value to your nation. This is not a hoax,” a- he writes.
The FBI office in the foreign country received the package, which had a return address from Pittsburgh. This led to an FBI agent posing as the foreign representative to communicate with Toebbe via Proton Mail over the course of several months. The federal agent sent Toebbe $ 10,000 worth of Monero in June as a sign of good faith and trust. A week later, Toebbe and his 45-year-old wife, Diana Toebbe, agreed to go to a deposit site in West Virginia to exchange the classified data.
With his wife acting as a lookout, Toebbe made the jump to the agreed spot. He left half of a peanut butter sandwich that contained a blue SD card wrapped in plastic. The aircraft contained, among other things, design elements and performance characteristics of Virginia-class submarine reactors. Toebbe had also left a message which read: “I hope your experts are very satisfied with the sample provided and I understand the importance of a small exchange to increase our confidence.
The FBI paid Toebbe $ 20,000 for the transaction. Several other exchanges took place over the following months, including one in which he received $ 70,000 after leaving an SD card in a packet of chewing gum.
The couple were arrested on October 9 and will appear in federal court in Martinsburg, West Virginia on October 12. They face charges of Conspiracy to Disclose Restricted Data and Disclosure of Restricted Data as violations of atomic energy law.
Image credit: @joefoodie
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