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Navy engineer asked for cryptocurrency payments to share secrets of nuclear submarines: FBI

By on October 10, 2021 0

A US Navy nuclear engineer is accused of attempting to sell secrets about the country’s nuclear submarines to a foreign country in exchange for cryptocurrency payments.

The espionage scheme was discovered by the FBI late last year and a criminal complaint was subsequently filed against engineer Jonathan Toebbe and his wife Diane Toebe in West Virginia, according to The Washington Post.

The complaint alleged that Toebbe “transmitted, and continues to transmit, restricted data as defined by the atomic energy law … Sunday.

A Navy engineer is accused of selling secrets of nuclear submarines to a foreign country in exchange for cryptocurrency. In this photo, a representative image of a Bitcoin is seen.
Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

The FBI learned of the scheme in December when it received a package delivered to a foreign country, the To post reported. It contained several documents relating to US naval operations, a letter, and an explanation of how to encrypt other communications.

“Please forward this letter to your military intelligence agency,” the letter read. “I think this information will be of great value to your nation. It is not a hoax.”

Toebbe was arrested after FBI agents posed as representatives of a foreign government and started talking about the offer. Email conversations included in the court documents showed the engineer to be extremely cautious and refused to meet with agents in person early on, saying he was risking his life to make the offer.

The emails also show Toebbe allegedly asking for $ 100,000 in cryptocurrency, according to the To post. The currency type was not specified.

“I understand this is a significant demand,” wrote the engineer. “However, remember that I am risking my life for your good and that I have taken the first step. Please help me trust you completely.”

The FBI eventually came up with a plan that would pay Toebbe in chunks and the engineer would leave the information he offered at designated locations in Jefferson County, West Virginia.

Toebbe was spotted by officers who allegedly carried out two airdrops after initial payments of $ 10,000 and $ 20,000, with his wife appearing to be on the lookout. The agents later paid Toebbe the final $ 70,000 and received a key with which the card information could be decrypted.

The information Toebbe had given included details of the design and functions of the Virginia-class nuclear submarine reactors. These state-of-the-art submarines feature “the latest in stealth, intelligence gathering and weapon systems,” according to court documents, and cost around $ 3 billion each.

Toebbe and his wife were arrested on October 2 and appeared for the first time on Tuesday. They are each charged with Conspiracy to Disclose Restricted Data and Disclosure of Restricted Data.

Toebbe has worked for the US Navy since 2012 and his wife is a high school teacher. They live together in Annapolis, Maryland.

Toebbe claimed in an email that his information was gathered slowly and methodically in the course of his normal duties so as not to arouse suspicion. It is not known at this time which foreign nation the FBI agents posed as when they contacted him, or with which nations he might have been in contact before law enforcement heard about it. his so-called plans.