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US spies bilked for USD 100,000 by Russian peddling Trump

AFP  |  Washington 

A Russian man promising stolen hacking tools and compromising information on Donald Trump fleeced American spies for USD 100,000 last year, according to a media report.

In a story worthy of a John le Carre novel that included secret USB-drive handovers in a small West bar and coded messages delivered over the National Security Agency's account, CIA agents reportedly spent much of last year trying to buy back from the Russian hacking programs stolen from the NSA, reported yesterday.

The seller, who was not identified but had links to both cyber criminals and Russian intelligence, tantalized the US spies with an offer of the NSA hacking tools that had been advertised for sale online by a group called the Shadow Brokers.

Some of the tools, developed by the NSA to break into the computers of US rivals, were used by other hackers last year to break into computer systems around the world, including the global malware attack last May.

The seller, reached through a chain of intermediaries, wanted USD 1 million.

The USD 100,000, delivered in a cash-stuffed suitcase handed over in a hotel room, was an initial payment by US agents still dubious he really had what he was promising.

The seller also repeatedly pressed US agents with offers of compromising materials, or kompromat, on Trump, said, citing US and European intelligence officials.

Although an investigation was already underway back in on the link between and the Trump campaign, the agents did not want to get involved in anything that smelled of the politics back home.

The story -- which was also reported by The Intercept, an on nationals security matters -- paints a classic versus story where the US agents aren't ever certain about who they are dealing with and whether or not they are being baited and played by their Russian counterparts.

officials say interfered with the 2016 election to help elect Trump, and continues to use disinformation to sow confusion in the American political system.

The Intercept reported that the operation created rifts in the CIA, which is led by Trump loyalist but has many staffers still smarting over the president's repeated harsh comments about the intelligence community's role in the meddling investigation.

The Russian's first delivery turned out to be hacking tools the Shadow Brokers had already released.

And he kept pushing his offer of kompromat on Trump, including financial records and a sex video that the US spies didn't really want.

In the end, the deal broke down last month -- the Russian did not come up with any of the unreleased NSA materials, and the Trump-related materials were either already known or untrustworthy.

The Russian was told by the Americans to leave Western Europe and not return, according to

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, February 10 2018. 09:35 IST