For Staniford it wasn't a joking matter. The day after he learned about Chapman's arrest, he found out that another one of the accused spies, Cynthia Murphy, had been his longtime accountant at a boutique firm he'd done business with. "That's when I went nuts," he says. "It's like the FBI said: 'There are coincidences. But this isn't one of them.' I knew it too. I mean, immediately. I knew I was targeted." The question that leapt to his mind was: Did I tell her anything? Had he ever revealed any significant details to his Russian paramour? "Of course not," he says. "I mean, I know what I'm allowed to say and I know what I'm not allowed to say. It's been drilled into my head." That said, he goes on, "she was very interested in my view of America and American policies. I do wonder if she was trying to see if I felt disgruntled in any way."

What's remarkable is that after learning that he may have spent a lot of time and money dating a Potemkin Village version of a girlfriend—and even though said girlfriend may have been trying to dupe him into leaking state secrets, albeit rather old and musty ones—Staniford still can't help but kind of . . . adore her. "It's a weird feeling; I don't hold anything against her," he says. "I feel bad for her. And I'm not exactly sure why. I just feel like she got used somehow."

Surely it's a tribute to the resiliency of the male ego, but many of the men who knew Anna Chapman are confident about this point: Maybe she faked it with the other dudes, but she was real with me. Even when they're presented with compelling evidence that they may have been dealing with a world-class con artist, Chapman's Manhattan associates mirthfully admit that they're still in touch with her via e-mail—and that they're eager to team up with her to get some new business deals under way. At one point in July, before the proposal evaporated, Terlecki was negotiating a $500,000 deal for her to pose nude in Playboy.

Regardless of the data at hand, Staniford's not totally willing to believe the charges against Chapman. (That's the thing about magic—you can never be sure.) "Here's what I think: I think she was a spy," he says. "However, I would bet you almost every single cent I own that she had no formal training in espionage and human intelligence. She was sent here to gather something or do some drop-offs, and she was doing 'spy things,' and therefore she's technically a 'spy,' but she's no spy. Okay?" Considering his own background, Staniford doesn't feel he's in a position to pass judgment. "Look, I'm former military, I spied on people, I did the same thing. You know?"

He smiles. "I did the exact same things that she did. She worked for her country."

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