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The "All-American" Family Who Turned Out To Be Russian Spies

Virginia Bailey lived next door to Vladimir and Lydia Guryev for years, but never met them once - because all along they were both pretending to be someone else.

The Guryevs and their children.CNN

Instead the couple introduced themselves as Richard and Cynthia Murphy, and they fit in perfectly with their neighbors in Montclair, New Jersey. Cynthia was a financial planner, Richard was a stay-at-home dad, and the couple had 2 young daughters together.

Cynthia in the family's kitchen.NYDN

So it came as a complete shock when the family was arrested by the FBI in 2010, as part of a raid on 10 Russian spies living on America's East Coast. It sounds like a plot from the FX series The Americans, but that's only because the secret plot inspired the TV show.

"The Americans" follows a suburban family who are actually a pair of undercover spies.Jordan Russia Center

Since the '90s, the FBI says the "Murphys" have collected information for the SVR, the secret intelligence service that is the modern version of the KGB. The agency spied on the family for years to learn who they were and what they were after.

The Murphys appeared to be an All-American family.CNN

As a message from the Russians to the Murphy family explains, "You were sent to USA for long-term service trip. Your education, bank accounts, car, house etc. -- all these serve one goal: fulfill your main mission, i.e. to search and develop ties in policymaking circles and send intels to [the Russian government.]"

Find out what happened to the family on the next page!

For neighbors who knew "Richard and Cynthia," their arrest by the FBI was a total shock.

Press outside the Murphys' home in Montclair.Daniel Barry / NYT

"You could have told me they were Martians from space and I would have been less surprised," one neighbor said. After all, the Murphys went to neighborhood parties, and their daughters set up lemonade stands in the summer.

Although some people remember the Murphys speaking with slight accents (they both avoided speaking Russian in their home) there were no other clues.

The FBI finally confirmed the family was up to no good once they got a look at Richard's notebook, which contained a secret code to hide messages inside computer files.

Richard's notebook.CNN

The Murphys and the 8 other Russian spies were returned to Russia in a prisoner swap, and the Murphy children went with them, something that upsets the family's old neighbors.

The Murphy children, along with the children of other spies, became Russian citizens overnight.CNN

"That whole aspect was very sad," said neighbor Virginia Bailey remembers. "To all of a sudden have their lives completely and utterly changed. The children didn't know Russia ... They have to leave their friends abruptly and suddenly. ... Everything would have just been so radically different."

The Murphy family home has been sold to new owners after sitting empty for years.Reuters

Today, one former Russian spy tells CNN he "would not be surprised" if there were more families like the Murphys hiding in plain sight.

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[H/T: CNN]

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