Nuclear engineer sells classified material for cryptocurrency, but buyer was FBI
By Bob Garcia
A sting snares a US Navy engineer who now stands charged with espionage
Selling classified data to undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents for cryptocurrencies turned out to be big trouble for a nuclear engineer and his wife. Both were arrested in West Virginia and face serious charges of selling restricted data and espionage.
According to reports, the classified information being sold for nearly a year by the couple was related to nuclear-powered warship designs. They believed the buyer was a representative of a foreign nation, but it turned out he was actually an undercover FBI agent who sent payments for the data in cryptocurrencies.
Upon completion of this investigation and sufficient evidence, the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) proceeded to arrest Jonathan and Diana Toebbe over the weekend. The couple is expected to appear in federal court today. “The complaint charges a plot to transmit information relating to the design of our nuclear submarines to a foreign nation,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland wrote in a statement.
Mr. Toebbe played a major role as a nuclear engineer assigned to the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program and, during his involvement, obtained active national security clearance through the US Department of Defense. Early last year, the FBI began to notice that something was not right with Toebbe after it became aware that the man used its resources to send a package containing sample data and instructions on how to establish covert communications and purchase more information.
Halfway through this year, an FBI agent took an undercover position to send $10,000 in an unspecified cryptocurrency to Toebbe as a “good faith” payment after receiving some sample data. More of these actions continued throughout the rest of the year in order to make a concrete case against the couple, and it was after a third drop was arranged that the agency was finally able to arrest the couple.