FBI agent allegedly paid a nuclear engineer around $100,000 worth of cryptocurrency in exchange for SD cards containing classified data.
The news came when a nuclear engineer and his wife were busted in West Virginia on charges of spying and selling classified data.
According to sources, the couple sold restricted information about nuclear-powered warships to a foreign nation representative almost a year ago. Note that an undercover FBI agent was the contact who sent payments for the data in crypto.
On October 9, the couple was arrested by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). Moreover, they will appear in federal court on Tuesday, October 12.
Jonathan Toebbe worked as a nuclear engineer appointed to the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. But, in April 2020, the FBI spotted Toebbe after sending a package containing sample data and instructions on how to communicate and purchase more information.
Expanding more, the undercover agent sent $10,000 in crypto to Toebbe. This payment was made as a “good faith” payment after receiving some data.
After that, the agent paid a further $20,000 in crypto for the decryption keys, for which the couple used a “dead drop” to hide an SD card containing more data inside half a peanut butter sandwich.
Furthermore, the FBI agent paid $70,000 in crypto to Toebbe in exchange for further data on U.S. nuclear submarines. It is during that third drop that the FBI nabbed the couple.
Additionally, this is not the first time U.S. authorities used crypto to investigate criminal activity. In August, the U.S. State Department started compensation in the form of crypto through its “rewards for Justice” website in exchange for dat leading to high-ranking foreign terrorism suspects.