A woman who tried to sell a rare hunk of moon rock for $1.7 million US was detained when her prospective customer turned out to be an undercover NASA investigator, officials say.
It is illegal to sell moon rocks, which are considered national treasures. The gray rocks, which were gifted to each U.S. state and 136 countries by then-president Richard Nixon, can sell for millions of dollars on the black market.
NASA agents and Riverside County sheriff’s deputies detained the woman, who has not been identified, after she met Thursday with an undercover NASA investigator at a restaurant in Lake Elsinore, about 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles, the sheriff’s office announced Friday. The investigation was conducted over several months.
Authorities swooped in after the two agreed on a price and the woman pulled out the rock.
How an Intern Stole NASA’s Moon Rocks
In 2002, rogue NASA interns stole millions of dollars in moon rocks. This is the untold story of how they did it.
Building 31 North’s white halls are empty, because it is the middle of the night. NASA interns Thad Roberts and Tiffany duck inside a bathroom, and tear off their clothing. Then they change into the contents of their duffel bags—2mm thick neoprene bodysuits. Like in a bad movie, the suits will help Thad and Tiffany avoid heat sensors armed to feel out threatening climate changes inside a vault. The adrenaline, their attraction, the smell of rubber suits and the fear of failure is almost overwhelming. After pulling on the thermally shielded gear, Tiffany and Thad step back into the corridor, moving toward the turnstile lock that guards their target: NASA’s prized stash of moon rocks.
- NASA Sting Nabs Woman Trying to Sell Moon Rock For $1.7 Million [Nasa] (gizmodo.com)
- NASA catches IE woman trying to sell moon rock for $1.7M (abclocal.go.com)
- US woman held in moon rock sting (bbc.co.uk)
- Purported moon rock that woman tried to sell must be tested for authenticity, NASA says (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- NASA sting leads to arrest of woman allegedly trying to sell moon rock for $1.7 million [Updated] (latimesblogs.latimes.com)