Hot alleged Russian spy Anna Chapman is on Facebook.
A new era in espionage, that's for sure. See LAT, "Alleged Russian spy ring members led typical American lives":
Richard and Cynthia Murphy grew lettuce in a backyard garden, walked their daughters to the school bus each morning, and swapped Christmas cards with neighbors who had moved to Texas.RTWT.
Their modest three-bedroom house sported maroon shutters and a wrap-around porch, and sat on a winding street in a well-heeled suburb across from Manhattan. They drove a green Honda Civic.
To all appearances, the Murphys were a typical, child-obsessed American family — not deep-cover Russian spies straight from a Cold War novel.
Their arrests, along with those of 9 other alleged Russian spies, has exposed a surprising side to modern espionage: The group led mundane lives far from the James Bond image. Instead of car chases and shootouts, they paid taxes, haggled over mortgages, and struggled to remember computer passwords.
As a result, the 11 — the biggest alleged spy ring every broken by the FBI — blended into American society for more than a decade. They joined neighbors at block parties, school picnics and bus stops. Four of the couples were married, and at least three had young children.
One suspect wrote columns for a Spanish-language newspaper in New York. Another ran an international consulting and management firm in Boston, while his wife sold high-priced real estate near Harvard University. Yet another drove a shiny blue BMW to his investment banking job in Seattle; he regularly updated his status on LinkedIn, a social networking site.
If their cover jobs were ordinary, their secret lives had a humdrum side that sometimes seems more like Woody Allen than John LeCarre.
One suspect, Anna Chapman, bought a Verizon cellphone in Brooklyn, N.Y., with a patently false address: 99 Fake Street. She also posted sultry photos of herself on Facebook and videos on YouTube. Another, Juan Lazaro, used a payoff from Moscow to pay nearly $8,000 in overdue county and city taxes, according to court documents.
Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley, the alleged spies in Boston, filed regular expense reports to Moscow Center, headquarters for Russia's foreign intelligence agency, called the SVR.
"Got from Ctr. 64500 dollars, income 13940, interest 76. Expenses: rent 8500, utilities 142, tel. 160, car lease 2180, insurance 432, gas 820, education 3600," plus medical, lawyers' fees, meals and gifts, mailboxes, computer supplies, and so on, they wrote in one, according to an FBI affidavit.
And the lettuce-growing Murphys of Montclair repeatedly argued with Moscow Center in encrypted computer messages last summer about who should legally own their $400,000 house — them or the SVR.
"From our perspective, purchase of the house was solely a natural progression of our prolonged stay here," the Murphy's explained, apparently after being reprimanded. "It was a convenient way to solve the housing issue, plus to 'do as the Romans do' in a society that values home ownership."
Murphy later whined to another spy about their bosses back in Moscow: "They don't understand what we go through over here."
The group allegedly attended one of Moscow's most elite spy schools before landing in America. Their mission was spelled out, somewhat awkwardly, in a 2009 message to the Murphy's from Moscow Center.
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