It’s not news that the nation’s capital is full of grifters and conmen.
But it raises more than a few eyebrows to learn that the Secret Service was infiltrated by two impostors, who for more than two years have been claiming successfully that they were agents of the elite organization. Not only that, but their elaborate con allegedly involved fake ID cards, phony websites, and a sizable cache of powerful weapons.
The news emerged on Thursday of the sophisticated long con carried out by Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Sher-Ali, 36, both of whom are U.S. citizens, but who also had Pakistani and Iranian visas among their passports. Beginning in February 2020, the pair have been claiming with admirable audacity that they belonged to the Secret Service—a bold claim that apparently no one challenged.
Among other perks of their con game was living rent-free at The Crossing, a posh, luxury D.C. apartment building; all it took to finagle their extended stay was to convince the management that they were working for the government, which can apparently open many doors in the capital. Not only that, but the pair was able to acquire access to video logs and information on fellow residents, including political staffers and federal agents.
Taherzadeh and Sher-Ali were arrested on Wednesday and arraigned on Thursday. They’re expected to make another court appearance on Friday.
It’s not clear at this time why the pair were impersonating Secret Service agents, but they have a long history of shady financial entanglements and business ventures. What’s even less clear is where the pair got all the money for their expensive lifestyle, which included the many lavish gifts they plied their fellow residents with at The Crossing. Rent-free apartments valued at $40,000 a year, multiple iPhones, a drone, a flat-screen TV, surveillance equipment, and a generator are among the many gifts that Taherzadeh and Sher-Ali allegedly doled out.
The two conmen also reportedly had quite an arsenal in their apartment. Sources told the UK Daily Mail that among the pair’s many firearms was a fully automatic suppressed M4-style rifle, a Glock 19 .9mm with high-capacity magazines, a Sig Sauer handgun, and an AR pistol. Whatever these guys were up to, it involved a lot of heavy weaponry right in the middle of Washington, D.C.
In fact, at one point early last year, the Metro Police searched Taherzadeh’s apartment, after a fellow building resident saw the cache of firearms through an open window. Although such weapons are illegal in the District of Columbia, Taherzadeh apparently produced sufficient credentials to convince the police that he was legally permitted to own them.
Among the other items allegedly recovered from Taherzadeh’s unit was a binder that contained information on other residents at The Crossing—which, as noted, is home to many actual federal agents, along with White House and congressional aides and staffers.
It’s a strange story, and is only likely to get stranger. The pair obviously went to great lengths to wheedle their way into the good graces of Secret Service agents and other government personnel, spending months on an elaborate scheme that involved inviting various government contractors and workers over to their apartment for salmon, filet mignon, beers and even a drag or two on a hookah.
It was all quite the operation, even if the ultimate ends remain mysterious. In the meantime, four members of the Secret Service—including one belonging to the first lady’s security detail—who were among the recipients of Taherzadeh and Sher-Ali’s largesse have been placed on indefinite leave.
As they say, the plot thickens.
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