A nuclear engineer sells secret data to undercover FBI agents in exchange for cryptocurrency.

Listen to this Article Now

A nuclear engineer and his wife were detained in West Virginia on suspicion of spying and selling restricted secrets. For nearly a year, the pair sold confidential information about nuclear-powered battleship designs to an individual they believed represented a foreign nation. However, the contact was an undercover FBI agent who received money for the material in cryptocurrency.

On Saturday, Oct. 9, the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) detained Jonathan and Diana Toebbe. They are scheduled to appear in federal court on Tuesday, October 12. According to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland’s statement: “The complaint charges a plot to transmit information relating to the design of our nuclear submarines to a foreign nation.”

Jonathan Toebbe worked as a nuclear engineer for the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program and maintained an active national security clearance from the United States Department of Defense.

The FBI got suspicious about Toebbe in April 2020 after discovering that he had sent a package containing sample data as well as directions on how to establish covert conversations and purchase more material.

After getting some sample data, an undercover agent gave Toebbe $10,000 in an unnamed cryptocurrency in June of this year as “good faith” payment. The pair utilised a “dead drop” to conceal an SD card holding more information inside half a peanut butter sandwich, for which the agent paid an additional $20,000 in cryptocurrency for the decryption keys.

In a second dead drop, the FBI paid Toebbe $70,000 in cryptocurrency in exchange for more information on US nuclear submarines. The couple was apprehended by the FBI after a third drop was planned.

Story by : Norvisi Mawunyegah