Dead Drops in Half-Eaten Sandwiches, Gum Packages: FBI Unveils Plot to Sell US Nuclear Sub Secrets

© AP PhotoU.S. nuclear-powered submarine USS Providence crosses the Suez canal in Ismailia, Egypt
U.S. nuclear-powered submarine USS Providence crosses the Suez canal in Ismailia, Egypt - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.10.2021
As Washington was preparing to arrange a sale of nuclear submarines to Australia, one of the country's nuclear engineers decided it was high time to make some money selling the same technology to other foreign countries.
The FBI jointly with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) has arrested a couple from Annapolis, Maryland, who are accused of attempting to sell classified data on nuclear submarine technologies – specifically its propulsion and reactor systems – to a foreign government.
Jonathan Toebbe, who worked as a nuclear engineer at the Department of the Navy, and his wife Diana wanted to earn some extra money on the side, and so they decided to contact a foreign government with an exclusive offer – to get their hands on information considered "restricted" under American law. The Department of Justice did not reveal which nation or nations Toebbe tried to reach out to – just that he was eventually contacted. Only his contact was not a representative of a foreign government, as Jonathan believed, but an FBI agent.
After sending a sample of "Restricted Data" to the undercover agent and receiving a "good faith" payment of $10,000 in an unspecified cryptocurrency, Toebbe struck a deal to exchange more pieces of classified info on US nuclear submarines for more crypto.
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During the summer of 2021, Jonathan Toebbe left three SD flash drives hidden in various objects - from half a peanut butter sandwich to a chewing gum package, which he left in pre-specified dead drops with his wife acting as a lookout. After leaving cards with classified info at dead drops he traded decryption keys for their contents for a total of $100,000 in cryptocurrency.
Upon receiving money for the first two dead drops, Toebbe did not want to stop, going for a third – and that's when the FBI decided to arrest him. Both Jonathan and Diana Toebbe were charged with violating the Atomic Energy Act - a piece of legislation protecting US nuclear technology secrets – and will face a court for the first time on 12 October.
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