If there’s one thing the world fears of Russia, it’s their highly trained intelligence and spy network. Just this month, a widow jeweler claiming to be a socialite was uncovered to be a GRU (Main Intelligence Directorate) working with NATO staff for over a decade.
According to investigations, the spy was posing as a jet-set jewelry designer who began her work by building her contacts within NATO’s naval headquarters. She had a Latin accent and a panache suggesting she came from old money. Eventually, she became a regular in an exclusive social circuit that included significant names in the Allied Joint Forces Command in Naples (HQ of the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet).
She called herself Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera, matched with a perfect origin story. On Aug. 8, 2005, the Independencia District in Lima, Peru, received an application for an inscription of a new Peruvian citizen in their database (most probably with the use of highly curated fake papers). She even had lawyers to back her birth certificate that stated she was born in the town of Callao. The birth certificate notes she was born on Sept. 1, 1978. The civil registry initially asked for further information and additional evidence. Her lawyers provided more documents like a baptism certificate and this “authentic church document” shows baby Maria Adela was baptized two weeks after she was born.
Still, the registry was not convinced. How did this person pop out of nowhere? So, they reached out to the parish priest at the Cristo Liberador. But, the priest, Rvd. Jose Enrique Herrera Quiroga had apparently become the church’s founder and inaugural priest nine years after the supposed baptism. Then, on Dec. 22, 2006, the Peruvian Ministry of Justice found out that there were three fraudulent citizenship applications that included “Maria Adela’s.”
After the failure in Peru, GRU commanders persisted and pushed for a Russian passport in 2006, with the exact name and birth date. According to their databases, her cover story was supposedly a “leading specialist” at Moscow State University. In the interviews with the people who knew and befriended “Maria Adela,” they said she would tell everyone she was born to a German Father and Peruvian mother in Callao, Peru. Then, her mother traveled to Moscow to attend the Olympic Games, but her mother received an urgent message asking them to return. Apparently, “Maria Adela” was left in Russia in the care of a Soviet family. Her “mother” would never return.
🧵Meet Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera, widow, jeweller, and socialite. The love child of a German father and a Peruvian mother, born in Callao, Peru, and abandoned in Moscow by her mother during the 1980 Olympic Games. pic.twitter.com/wHo6qSmKik
— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) August 26, 2022
This “Maria Adela” traveled to Paris and connected with some of the people there and studied gemology. Then, in October 2011, she pursued an MBA and finally obtained a student visa in September 2011. Then, just a couple of months after being in Paris, she registered her own jewelry trademark in France called “Serein.”
“Maria Adela” also got married in July 2021 to a man with both Ecuadorian and Russian citizenship. Their records show that after their marriage in Rome, Italy, the husband traveled back to Russia and died on July 13, 2013, at the age of 30.
This began her infamous widow-jeweler story as she started entering cliques after cliques. She also resided in the beautiful Posillipo district with a divine view of the Gulf of Naples. She started pushing for her brand and even showing off social media posts. The now-archived website showed her supposed collection and this is what she used as a conversation starter to the NATO-affiliated staff.
As her influence expanded, she pushed outside the Naples “in-crowed” and connected with the Lions Club Napoli Monte Nuovo, a global organization that “looks to better the communities it operates in and advance civic society.” In short, a highly exclusive club for the rich, established by a Naples-based NATO officer.
In 2015, “Maria Adela” even became the club’s treasurer, then moved up to being the secretary by 2018. She was now known as “Adela.” She would connect and interact with NATO staff a lot, some of which she may have had romantic relationships with. There was even an email thread with her saying a US Navy employee had a “little crush” on her. By this time, she’s already had access to NATO and US Navy officers.
Her stint was stopped until she went in too deep and pushed more aggressively for information. The investigators started to expose her real identity, but it took months to uncover the truth. They finally made a match using facial recognition software and other databases. They were also helped by whistleblowers and other evidence.
It was not known whether her mission had been a success, but US Intelligence and NATO never caught her for espionage. In 2018, “Adela” hurried back to Moscow without a formal adieu to the community she had devoted years to. No more social media. No more luxury brands. Then on Nov. 29, 2018, she posted on social that she’s been dealing with cancer and had been doing chemo.
“5 months… It’s the truth I must finally reveal. I was trying to hide from myself, at some point I succeeded! Hair is growing now after chemo, short short but there. Missing everything but trying to breathe. At least learn to do it…
PS. Thank you to all the people who have not stopped “bombing” me with messages these past 5 months!!!! Love you!!! [SIC]” the translation noted.
Intelligence finally caught up and discovered that her real name was Olga Kolobova. She hasn’t been caught yet, and it is presumed that she is still in Russia.