Widowed jeweler who lived in Europe was actually a Russian spy

Source: Hot Air

Bellingcat has come up with a pretty amazing story of a woman named Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera who spent years living in various parts of Europe. She was a widow with a tragic backstory who became a successful jeweler living in Italy. Only it turns out she was none of those things. She was actually a Russian spy. More on that in a moment but first, here’s Maria Rivera’s story.

It’s a real rags to riches story.

There was tragedy along the way:

She climbed the social ladder:

And traveled the world:

Life seemed to be going well until she was suddenly struck…by cancer.

It turns out every bit of her story was a lie. In fact “Maria” was a Russian spy, real name Olga. And she didn’t suddenly get diagnosed with cancer in 2018. Instead, she was accidentally outed by Bellingcat when it was outing the GRU hit squad who attempted to murder Sergey Skripal on British soil. That investigation revealed a mistake made by the GRU: Their spies had been given consecutively numbered passports.

The investigation had blown the lid on a glaring hole in the GRU’s tradecraft: for nearly a decade, Russia’s military intelligence agency had furnished their spies with consecutively numbered passports, allowing investigative journalists who had acquired data commonly leaked onto Russia’s black market to uncover other spies by simply tracing such batches of numbers…

The next day, 15 September 2018, a woman with a long, Latin-sounding name bought a one-way ticket from Naples, Italy, to Moscow. For around a decade, this individual had travelled the world as a cosmopolitan, Peru-born socialite with her own jewellery line. Later that evening, she landed in Moscow and is not known to have left Russia since. She flew on a passport from one of the number ranges Bellingcat had outed the previous day – in fact, hers only differed by one digit from the passports on which Boshirov and Petrov’s GRU boss had flown to Britain just six months earlier.

The name on her passport was Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera…

In fact, when Olga sent the message about the sudden cancer diagnosis she was moving into an upscale apartment in Moscow. Bellingcat was eventually able to track down Olga:

A reverse face-search in Russia’s sprawling passport database led to no matches with a persuasive confidence of facial similarity. However, it did produce hundreds of possible low-score matches that our team began analysing to identify other possible overlaps…

A comparison of two different-age photographs of “Maria Adela” from social media sources to an old passport photo of a Russian citizen by the name of Olga Kolobova, born in 1982, in Microsoft’s Azur tool gave unimpressive scores of less than 35%. After initially discarding this person as an unlikely suspect, reporters revisited this hypothesis due to the old vintage of the passport photo, likely showing the person at the age of 14 or 15…

…our team was able to obtain a fresh photograph of Olga Kolobova from a whistleblower with access to Russia’s database of drivers’ licences. That photo – which appeared to be from 2021 – provided a convincing match between the faces of “Maria Adela” and Olga Kolobova.

The final proof that clinched it was that the photo “Maria” had used on her Facebook profile was identical to the one Olga used on WhatsApp.

All in all a pretty impressive bit of work by Bellingcat. The one thing the group wasn’t able to figure out was whether Olga’s long undercover operation was a success or a failure. Was she able to gather information from the NATO officers she was having relationships with? At the moment no one is talking.

Finally, even her work as a successful jeweler was fake: