“I’d never met anybody like her in my life,” Bob Underwood says. He says his neighbor, known as Madame Giselle, claimed to be the former wife of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and current secret wife of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi. She told him she was a former adviser to the Obama administration and current occupant of a White House office next to that of Ivanka Trump, of whom she said she's "kind of a mom figure." It's possible those things are true—Madame Giselle does appear to have, at one point, been an adviser to the president of Ghana and married to a Colombian police official—but it's unlikely. Instead, what it appears the mysterious woman actually is, according to an investigation by the Washington Post, is a massively convincing scam artist.
Madame Giselle is accused of having used her soon-to-be-divorced neighbor's love for his daughter to scam him out of at least $50,000 in "an elaborate scheme to sell T-shirts to the Venezuelan army." He wasn't the only DC-area neighbor she allegedly used this scam on. Then there were the stories of her running a scheme to sell ponchos and belts to the army in Colombia, where she was known as "The Blonde." "My sister is a nightmare for all the family," Madame Giselle's apparent sister says, adding, “We don’t want to hear anymore about her in this life." They may not want to hear more about Madame Giselle, but the full Post piece here is definitely worth a read, promising as it does: "Things got even stranger from there." (Read more Longform stories.)