TODAY   |  July 01, 2010

Alleged spies lived as party girl, mom

The FBI says Anna Chapman and Cynthia Murphy may have pretended to be ordinary American women, but they were taking their orders from Moscow. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: And now to new details in that alleged Russian spy scandal. Nine of the suspects are scheduled to appear in court today, as we learn more about the people arrested in the case. NBC 's Andrea Mitchell has the latest. Good morning, Andrea .

ANDREA MITCHELL reporting: Good morning, Meredith . Intelligence experts are hard-pressed here to figure out just what the Russians were thinking sending 10 suspected spies to live under deep cover here looking like average Americans, all except one, Anna Chapman , who was anything but average. She was a New York party girl and now an Internet sensation, 28-year-old Anna Chapman , seductive, describing herself as the founder of an online real estate firm.

Ms. ANNA CHAPMAN: So I launched this business purely because I wanted to help someone.

MITCHELL: The FBI says Chapman was actually working for Russian intelligence , at a Starbucks in midtown Manhattan , or a Barnes Noble downtown, setting up a closed wireless network on her laptop to pass messages to her handler in a minivan outside. Here's Chapman promoting herself in a video for a business conference .

Ms. CHAPMAN: But I think most challenging part of my life really started when I quit all my jobs, really cut all my salaries and really did something I wanted to do.

MITCHELL: The FBI says Chapman and the others used invisible ink, secret codes, blending in and in Chapman's case, living the Manhattan high life .

Ms. CHAPMAN: I will show up, I will have a business meeting at 2:00. Then I have a wonderful dinner planned.

MITCHELL: Russian agents buried thousands of dollars in cash upstate to finance their cover stories.

Mr. DAVID WISE (Intelligence Expert): That's a lot of money to be handing out, you know, and that caught my eye because that means that they expected something from it. But there's no evidence that they got very much.

MITCHELL: No couple appeared more all American than two of the other suspects, Richard and Cynthia Murphy , seen here in their Montclair , New Jersey , backyard. Thirteen-year-old Blake Lapin played with their kids.

Mr. BLAKE LAPIN: I was totally surprised. It -- out of anyone on the block, they would be the last people that you'd expect.

MITCHELL: Wednesday, the mailman made his normal drop at the Murphy house. Neighbors are still amazed.

Mr. STEPHEN CAPONE (Neighbor): I mean, there was nothing that was like suspicious or anything that was odd.

MITCHELL: And what about the unwitting Americans the accused spies were allegedly cultivating for information?

Mr. PAT ROWAN (Former Justice Department Official): Some of them may have already been contacted, some of them may have picked up the paper this morning and said, `Oh, my gosh, that's the guy I play tennis with every Tuesday.'

MITCHELL: Today, Anna Chapman remains in solitary confinement in a Brooklyn jail, denied bail. Her court-appointed lawyer is considering an appeal. The nine other suspects, though, will have bond hearings today in federal courts from Manhattan to Boston ; Alexandria , Virginia , and Seattle , Washington .