Maybe you’ve broken a law or two. Stolen a pack of gum, driven over the speed limit, or taken a photo under a “no trespassing” sign. Maybe it was peer pressure. After all, humans do crazy things for love. But would you ever commit a major crime just to impress someone?
FBI investigators spent years trying to track down criminal Heather Tallchief, though her trail was ice cold from the moment she disappeared. When they finally had her in cuffs, they were stunned to learn how she’d pulled off her crime — and what she’d been doing for the past 12 years.
Heather Tallchief was interested in medicine. In the years before her crimes, she worked as a caregiver at a hospice in her home city of San Francisco. Despite being a well-loved employee, her exposure to old age and death left her jaded. She found herself with increasingly negative thoughts.
Isaac Brekken / Las Vegas Revie Journal
One night in 1992, Heather was approached by a man at a bar. He went by many pseudonyms, but his true name was Roberto Solis. He was 27 years her senior, yet the attraction was instant. They went back to his apartment, where he insisted on reading her tarot cards. She agreed.
As Roberto shuffled the cards, Heather noticed the skulls and candles cluttering up his apartment. Despite red flags, she had fallen under his spell. Roberto would later reveal his entire criminal past to her, but for now, he was a captivating enigma. According to his reading, they had a future in Las Vegas. Together.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
In an unlikely move, Heather left San Francisco for Vegas and moved in with the charismatic criminal. The young woman trusted this man completely. He gave her the kind of affection she’d never received before.
Not too long after moving, Heather applied to be a driver of armored vehicles, supplying cash to all the major casinos on the Vegas Strip. She was a beautiful girl with perfect references and no criminal background. The man-driven industry employed her with no suspicion.
After performing shockingly well on her firearm evaluation, Heather was swiftly promoted. She’d only been on the job for a couple months and was now transporting millions in unmarked bills to the biggest casinos in the country. She became very popular among her colleagues, particularly the men.
J. Patric Schneider / The Chronicle
To avoid attention, Heather would wear fake glasses and rugged boots, which only enchanted her coworkers more — many admitted to having crushes on her! Heather’s allure became overwhelming when she suddenly disappeared on October 21st, 1993
It was a Friday. The Strip was packed with gamblers and tourists, all rubbing shoulders as they stuffed more money in the pockets of casino owners. No one knew one of the greatest heists in Las Vegas’s history was about to take place.
Heather was going about the job as usual. As she drove with over 3 million dollars in unmarked bills, you might assume her heart was racing. But her coworkers recall her relaxed demeanor. Her shoes, however, told a different story.
On her feet, Heather had traded her rugged boots for a pair of dress shoes. Her coworkers thought she might be headed to a fancy dinner after work. Still, it was an odd clothing choice, considering it was the biggest change-over day of the year.
At around 8AM, Heather and her coworkers pulled up to their first stop. She was left alone as the men unloaded the first batch of bills into the casino. When her coworkers returned outside, Heather and the truck were nowhere to be found.
Heather had driven to a rented garage only minutes away. To avoid suspicion, Roberto pretended to be in an armored-car repair business. The couple left the vehicle in the garage, took the $3 million, and set off to the airport. By the time the FBI had caught wind, the couple had escaped for good.
Roberto and Heather had planned for months. They left false names, addresses, workplaces, and phone numbers to throw the authorities off their trail. They forged multiple drivers licenses and identifications in foreign countries. With incredible foresight, Roberto and Heather managed to remain undercover for 12 years.
Heather Tallchief became 3rd on the FBI’s list of most-wanted fugitives, making her the most wanted woman in America. This was the highest level reached by a woman in 23 years. But after committing such an explosive crime at such a young age, would Heather be content living in secret for her entire life?
Daring Casino Heists
Shortly after the couple’s escape, Roberto began cheating on Heather. He treated her poorly and brought other women into their home. She found herself doing drugs and drinking excessively. After two years, Heather got pregnant. After giving birth, she decided to take her infant son and flee.
Having a child changed Heather’s outlook. For a decade, she managed to stay hidden from the government. Once her son turned 10, Heather decided to turn herself in. She hired an experienced lawyer to oversee her surrender and flew to an airport in Nevada. There, she admitted to her identity and was placed under arrest.
Las Vegas Metro Police Department
Heather gave a full confession to the authorities. She told them all the cunning ways her and Roberto managed to stay hidden. And yet, they were astonished by Heather in particular. They asked how she managed to stay incognito for a full decade while continuing to raise a child.
The young woman had started a brand new life in the Netherlands. She met another man and raised her child to know him as his father. Once her son reached the age of 10, Heather came forward with her crimes. By being a present mother, she hoped her son would sympathize with her mistakes.
Heather was sentenced to just over 5 years in prison. On top of this, she was to spend her life paying back the $3 million to the security company. In 2010, she was released from prison and now remains a low-profile member of society, assumed to be reunited with her son. Roberto was never found.
Luis Saterno Saturno / The New Mexican
Logical thinking helped Heather commit one of the most seamless crimes in history, but it also encouraged her to come forward for the sake of her son. This admission landed her a mild sentencing and an opportunity to free herself from a life of crime. The FBI isn’t so lucky with other criminals.
Viktoria Nasyrova had an affinity for luxury—fur, diamonds, you name it. But getting the money to pay for her high-end tastes was a bit of a problem, and the never-ending quest for cash landed her in more than a lifetime’s worth of trouble.
For example, in 2014, when she still lived in Krasnodar, Viktoria befriended her 54-year-old neighbor, Alla Alekseenko (pictured) who’d just turned a profit from selling her mother’s home. She made three million rubles—about $53,000—on the sale, and allegedly Viktoria had an eye for the money.
So it was no surprise that suspicion fell on Viktoria when, not long after the sale of the house was complete, Russian authorities found Alla’s charred and hacked-apart remains near Viktoria’s home. But had Viktoria really done it?
Even Alla’s daughter, Nadezda Ford (left) blamed Viktoria for the deed, as Viktoria allegedly had pushed Alla into alienating most of her friends and family over the course of their friendship. Unbelievably, Nadezda confronted Viktoria about it in Russia.
At the door of Viktoria’s home, Nadezda said she “hugged [Viktoria] tightly and asked, ‘Where is my mom.’ She tried to break out of my hug, pushing me away, and started screaming, ‘She is alive! Get away from me!'” Had Nadezda blamed the wrong person? Well…
Investigators eventually turned up more evidence that led them to Viktoria. Specifically, traffic surveillance cameras caught Viktoria driving a rental car with Alla’s corpse buckled in the front seat. They had captured her… right?
Had Viktoria been one to admit defeat, this might have been the end for her. However, her next move was something no one could have seen coming—and it was a decision that would define the next few years of her life.
NY Daily News
To preserve her freedom, sources close to the case alleged that Viktoria began a relationship with the lead investigator on her case! With the investigator compromised, Viktoria had effectively bought herself more time to figure a way out…
Still, authorities closed in on her—without the help of the case’s lead investigator. Viktoria had to plan her next move quickly. Rather than face justice, she stole a passport and fled Russia—and she knew just where to go.
GVA Spotter / YouTube
Viktoria knew she’d be safe from Russian authorities in the United States. Whether it was a coincidence or a morbid calculation, she moved to Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn—the same part of town where Alla’s daughter, Nadezda, lived. Nadezda was horrified.
“It’s unbearable,” she said, “to know you’re living next to the person who took everything from you. God forbid anyone live in this agony.” Nadezda was more determined than ever to find justice for her mother. But would she ever get it?
Despite her smokescreen, Viktoria’s flight from Russia triggered Interpol to make her arrest a top priority. The organization suspected that Viktoria had, in fact, murdered Alla to steal money and jewelry she obtained through the home sale.
Nadezda did her part to make sure Viktoria was caught. She made repeated calls to immigration officials and enlisted retired NYPD detective Herman Weisberg to track her down. Whether Viktoria knew it or not, the law was after her. Could she slip away again?
Meanwhile in Brooklyn, you’d think that Viktoria would be living a modest life, watching over her shoulder every minute for the police, right? Nope! She lived like a queen, buying diamonds and fur with money she allegedly thieved from Alla!
New York Post
As if that wasn’t brazen enough, Viktoria—who’d started going by “Rachel” at that point—worked as a dominatrix with clients who “mutually satisfied each other’s primal instincts.” But the money from Alla and her work still wasn’t enough to satisfy her…
It seemed Viktoria would go to any lengths for some quick cash. One of her clients recalled that she made him fried fish before a meeting. She insisted he eat it right away, and once he did, he passed out. The man claimed Viktoria robbed him of about $3,300. Would she ever be stopped?
Richard Kingsbury / Flickr
On August 28, 2016, Viktoria paid a visit to a friend she’d made while living in New York named Olga Tsvyk. Olga was an eyelash technician, and she looked similar to Viktoria. On that day, Viktoria approached her friend with an urgent request. She brought a gift, too…
“She came to my house, saying she need[ed] emergency lash repair,” Olga told the New York Post. Viktoria brought a slice of cheesecake as additional payment for the emergency request. The dessert seemed odd, but they were friends, so Olga accepted.
gairid1791 / Flickr
Olga might have refusedif she knew Viktoria had a history of drugging men with food before robbing them, but instead, she cheerfully took the cake from her friend. “It tasted like a regular cheesecake, nothing out of the ordinary,” Olga said.
Soon, she felt nauseated and she vomited. Viktoria told her not to worry and that she’d help clean up the mess. The last thing Olga remembered was Viktoria looking down on her as she lost consciousness…
A day later, Olga’s landlord found her stripped down to her underwear, in bed, and surrounded by pills. A staged suicide. The heat in her apartment had been turned way up. She’d been 40 minutes away from a heart attack, doctors told her. What happened?
After a few days of treatment, she returned home to find her passport and gold ring missing. Olga knew the culprit. “She [Viktoria] planned it. She was looking for someone like me, alone in the country, nobody would look for me.”
Viktoria Nasyrova / Facebook via Daily Mail
Authorities tested the slice of cheesecake and found traces of phenazepam, a powerful tranquilizer. Viktoria allegedly weaponized the cake so she could use Olga’s passport in the future, in case she needed to flee again. Once more, she’d created an escape plan. But this time, she’d made a serious miscalculation in the process…
With her list of crimes in America piling up, American authorities didn’t need to rely on Viktoria’s crimes in Russia to officially charge her. That made Detective Herman Weisberg—and Nadezda—all the more determined to catch her.
Through his research, Detective Weisberg discovered that Viktoria posted on Facebook under yet another alias during her escapades in Brooklyn. “After poring over pictures,” he said, “I realized the stitching on the leather car seat in one of her selfies was unique to a high-end Chrysler.” Finally, he had a way to track her down…
Viktoria Nasyrova / Facebook via Daily Mail
His team scoured Brooklyn until they spotted a car with an interior that matched the photo. After a stakeout, they located Viktoria—surveillance shot here—and followed her to her home. They finally found out where she lived!
Because she had outstanding warrants from her crimes, the NYPD Warrant Squad could move on her quickly once Detective Weisberg supplied them with her address. Pictured here is the apartment she lived in.
On March 20, 2017, authorities finally arrested Viktoria. They indicted her on 10 counts, which included attempted murder and robbery. She’s currently being held without bail on Riker’s Island…
Gregory P. Mango / New York Post
When those affected by Viktoria’s crime sprees heard the news, they all breathed a collective sigh of relief. “This is some kind of miracle for me,” Nadezda said. “Three years of my life, and finally, [Viktoria] gets arrested.”
Gregory P. Mango / New York Post
“‘She embarked on a life of crime here,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Bob Boyce said. “And we don’t have the whole story yet. We only have bits and pieces.” Hopefully, authorities can keep others safe from Viktoria’s alleged pathological tendencies.
When you’ve got a bright, unforgettable look, you tend to stand out in a crowd. And when you stand out, no one suspects you of hiding anything. That was also the benefit of Anna Kushchenko, another Russian woman — with an IQ of 162 and flaming red hair.
Born in 1982 in Stalingrad, Russia, Anna grew up accustomed to a fairly luxurious lifestyle. Her mother was a teacher, but her father was a Russian diplomat who mostly worked in Kenya. Anna was a star pupil and went on to study economics in Moscow.
Like most wealthy college students, Anna used her long summers off to travel and explore the world. In the summer of 2001, she visited London, and immersed herself in the local nightlife. One evening, she met a man who immediately captured her attention.
His name was Alex Chapman. “I knew right away I had to talk to her,” he said. The two hit it off and continued to see each other, with Anna flying back and forth between Moscow and London for the rest of her studies.
After dating for just 5 months, the couple got married. They knew their families would be skeptical, so they decided not to tell them right away. This would be the first in a long string of secrets the two would keep from their families — and from each other.
Keeping their marriage a secret was not only technically difficult but emotionally as well. A few months after their wedding, Alex and Anna Chapman went to visit Anna’s parents in Africa. That was when Alex first met Anna’s dad, the curious Vasily Kushchyenko.
Alex mentioned that Vasily was “scary” and that he had a “huge influence” on his daughter. Vasily didn’t trust Alex for one second, and Alex was not fond of his new father-in-law, either. The newlyweds soon returned to London, and Alex tried to shake off the haunting memory of Vasily as best as he could.
As the couple settled into married life and Anna received an English passport, everything seemed to go perfectly. Anna graduated with first-class honors and took up jobs at big investment corporation, landing gigs at NetJets and Barclays. Slowly but certainly, her behavior began to change.
Around 2005, according to Alex, Anna started increasingly meeting with people she referred to as “Russian friends.” If this was the only issue, Alex may have let it slide, but Anna seemed to become a completely different person.
Suddenly she was more materialistic than before, spending all her money on designer clothes, bags, and jewelry, which she probably needed to fit in with her new V.I.P. friends. She attended party after party, bragging about whom she met, “like a midlife crisis,” Alex said.
By 2006, Alex and Anna had grown apart and filed for divorce. Despite the many connections she had made in London, Anna decided to move back to Moscow — but not before telling Alex a crucial family secret.
Her father, she said, used to be a top agent in the notorious Soviet spy agency, the KGB! Leaving Alex to mull this over, she returned to Moscow. Nobody heard from her for several years; only her closest friends and relatives knew that she was even still alive.
Years later, Anna finally popped up again in New York City. Nobody understood her sudden decision to relocate to America — she always claimed she didn’t like the place and mocked American accents when she watched TV. And yet, here she was, posing in front of the statue of liberty.
Anna got to work immediately and quickly became the head of an international real estate business. When she wasn’t working (in an office), she was out mingling with members of the high society, and it was soon rumored that she was dating New Jersey tycoon Michel Bittan.
On one hot summer day in 2012, Anna received a strange call from a man who called himself Roman; he claimed to be a Russian consular official. He asked her to meet him at a coffee shop using a code phrase.
“Didn’t we meet in L.A. last summer?” he asked when they met, and Anna, well-trained, knew exactly how to respond: “No, I think it was the Hamptons,” she said, using the code phrase.
Roman asked her to deliver a fake passport to an alleged spy in an agreed-upon location the following day. Anna hesitated — she had never met this man before, nor had she ever received similar instructions, but she took the passport anyway.
Once the meeting was over, she immediately bought an untraceable burner phone and anxiously placed a call to her father, Vasily. He told her to hand the passport over to the police right away. That way, it would seem like she did the right thing in case it was a trap.
Unfortunately for Anna, it was already too late. The FBI had been tracking and watching her for months, and they finally had enough evidence to put her in cuffs. She instantly became a sensation as her picture was splashed across newspaper covers and details of her deep-cover mission on behalf of Russia were exposed.
The FBI reported that it once tracked her sending secret signals to a Russian diplomat from inside a bookstore in New York, so they bugged her, recorded her, and followed her every move. Her encounter with “Roman” was only the final straw. The jig was up for Anna.
As it turned out, Anna was only one of a ring of 10 Russian “sleeper” agents busted that summer — a spy. She ended up confessing her sins to avoid a lengthy trial and was instead sent back on a one-way plane to Moscow in return for four double agents who were destined for the U.S. and England.
Surprisingly enough, the captured spies were greeted at home by none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin. A former KGB agent himself, Putin celebrated the returning comrades.
Far from being treated as criminals, the uncovered agents were hailed as heroes in a grand ceremony full of fanfare and patriotic music. It wasn’t an outcome even Anna expected.
Now, everybody knew the name, Anna Chapman. People wondered how on earth she could have pulled all of this off by herself. During one of her many media appearances in Russia, Chapman hinted that her secret weapon had been the art of seduction.
In fact, she was suspected of trying to seduce famous American whistleblower Edward Snowden. She once Tweeted at him “Will you marry me?” but Snowden couldn’t tell if she was serious or not. When she was asked about it on a TV interview, she simply stormed out.
The man she was once actually married to, Alex, had given several interviews about their relationship since the arrest, mostly to Anna’s dismay. However, in May 2018, he was suddenly found dead at the age of 36. It was written off as natural causes, but many people suspected otherwise.
Anna was fairing much better, becoming a multi-millionaire with her fashion boutique, financial consultancy, and glamorous photoshoots. She even landed a gig on a local TV show and dove into politics, but nothing surprised her fans more than her sudden hiatus.
While Anna had been avidly posting on social media for years, she suddenly disappeared from the spotlight for a while in 2015. As it turned out, she had been hiding a pregnancy and gave birth to a son. She did not share the identity of the father.
Since then, Anna has been focusing less on modeling and more on a political youth movement. With her seat on the Young Guard of United Russia (the youth wing of Vladimir Putin’s party), she has been “engaged in educating young people.”
No matter how, it seems that Anna is adamant about remaining in the spotlight, making both the press and her fans very happy. After all, she seems to have been born for this.
There is no telling what this “former” spy will do next, but there have been whispers about her running for office. With a wildcard like Anya Kushchenko, only time can tell.