The FBI and NCIS arrested a U.S. Marine engineer and his wife on Saturday for trying to sell nuclear secrets to a “foreign party
Jonathan Toebbe, a US Navy nuclear engineer, and his wife Diana Toebbe were arrested by federal authorities for allegedly trading confidential military information. The pair were arrested while performing the third dead-drop in Jefferson County, West Virginia. Toebbe allegedly received Monero (XMR) worth a total of $ 100,000 from an undercover FBI agent posing as a representative of a foreign power that wanted to buy military secrets.
As an engineer working under the Navy’s nuclear propulsion program, Toebbe had been selling information about the design of nuclear-powered warships to the “foreign power” for about a year. Due to his position as a nuclear engineer in the Navy, he was released by the US Department of Defense for national security, which allowed him access to confidential information.
In April last year, he transmitted confidential information to a foreign government for the first time. The nuclear engineer used encrypted emails to make arrangements with the other party, which he assumed represented a foreign country. The exchange dragged on for months before they agreed on a deal where he would receive Monero for the stolen information.
Toebbe received the first payment, $ 10,000 in cryptocurrency, which was supposed to solidify the relationship in early June. Then, on June 26, he handed over an SD card hidden in a sandwich at a pre-arranged location in West Virginia, with his wife as a security guard. The decryption key for the SD card, which contained information about submarine nuclear reactors, he sent by e-mail after receiving a second payment of $ 20,000 in cryptocurrency.
Two months later, he made a similar surrender, this time in eastern Virginia. He used a chewing gum wrapper to hide the SD card, and after sending the decryption key, he received $ 70,000. Unaware that the whole action was a frame-up, Toebbe delivered the third “package” on Saturday, but was arrested at the scene by FBI agents who had been on his trail. According to reports, the agents had tracked down Toebbe and identified him during the first two handovers.
It is believed that the couple used the privacy-friendly Monero for the transaction because of its high anonymity. The coin is known for the fact that it is almost impossible to trace it, since its addresses are not publicly visible, except for the parties involved in the transaction. Its use in criminal activities has led to the fact that various departments of the government have commissioned experts to develop tools and systems that can track transactions with the cryptocurrency.